Arizona Paralegal Schools
Arizona paralegal schools offer aspiring paralegals the ability to work in the legal field with a position that offers strong opportunities for growth. Job growth is excellent for individuals who acquire a paralegal degree in Arizona, with positions opening at a rate much higher than the national average. Furthermore, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in the area of Professional and Business Services, which includes Legal Services, Arizona grew 6.1% between 2012 and 2013, much higher than the national average of 3.5% for the same period.1
How to Become a Paralegal in Arizona
In the state of Arizona, there is not a preset level of education that must be attained before working as a paralegal. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the state of Arizona employed 5,190 paralegals and legal assistants.2 Part of the reason for this large number is that Arizona was the first state in the US to allow individuals to prepare legal documents for people who wished to represent themselves in court, without the supervision of an attorney. This gave way to to the title of “Certified Legal Document Preparer.” Today, in Arizona, people can still enter the profession through a variety of ways, including hands-on training, education, or certification on the national level.
Even though a formal education may not be required to get a paralegal job here, it certainly helps. With the coming expected increase in job openings in the field, those who have a degree or certificate in paralegal studies will have an edge over those with no experience or education.
Coursework at Arizona Paralegal Schools
The Arizona Association of Legal Assistants is a statewide organization linked to many Arizona paralegal schools, and coursework prepares students to take a licensing exam for certification. To do so, students take coursework in proficiency in computer basics, legal research and writing, before moving onto basic tenets of criminal law, civil litigation and aspects of the constitution that affect legal practices. Electives at Arizona paralegal schools tend to focus on more specific aspects of law, including family law or wills and probate.
Arizona Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
The average salary for Arizona paralegals in Arizona in 2014 was $49,390.2 This is in line with the national average for paralegals in the same year, which was $51,840.2 With the recent years’ downturn in the economy, it means good news for those looking to become a paralegal in Arizona. As law firms are downsizing and striving to become more efficient, they are hiring more assistants and giving increasing responsibility to paralegals. Projections Central predicts that paralegal and legal assistant jobs in Arizona will increase by about 28% between 2012 and 2022, which is the seventh highest rate of all states and much higher than the national rate for paralegals of 16%.3 Good salaries and the strong outlook for Arizona paralegals make it one of the most financially rewarding career options in the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
ABA-Approved Paralegal Schools in Arizona
There are several Arizona paralegal schools that are certified by the American Bar Association. They include:
- Everest College Phoenix offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in paralegal studies.
- Phoenix College in Phoenix offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in paralegal studies and a post-degree Certificate of Completion (CCL) in paralegal studies.
- Pima Community College in Tucson offers a post-degree certificate and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in paralegal studies.
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Arizona
Phoenix College – Phoenix: The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in paralegal studies is the most sought-after program in Phoenix College’s Legal Studies Division. This associate degree is approved by the American Bar Association and generally takes two years to complete. Three full time faculty teach for the paralegal studies program and instruct students in courses like The Paralegal Profession, Introduction to Law, Criminal Trial Procedure, and Legal Writing. Students who pursue an internship must commit to 160 hours of supervised work within a law firm or legal office in addition to attending internship seminar classes.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Arizona
Nussbaum Gillis & Dinner, P.C. is widely regarded as one of the best law firms in Arizona thanks to a client-centered approach that combines the best qualities of a national firm with the focus on personal attention of a boutique firm. NGD has tripled in size in just three years, leading to an aggressive recruiting strategy for attorneys and paralegal staff to fuel its expansion. Snell & Wilmer is one of the largest full service law firms in the Western US, with offices across the western US and Mexico. Its Phoenix and Tucson offices are centrally located, and continually recruit for support staff as Snell & Wilmer expands through its own cash flow. Phillips Law Group is among the largest consumer law firms in Arizona, and is headquartered in Phoenix. Phillips Law Group works in virtually all areas of consumer litigation, and paralegals at the firm support recognized attorneys with years of experience in their fields.
Paralegal Schools and Programs in Arizona
Arizona Western College (Yuma, AZ)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Studies
Occupational Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Brown Mackie College (Phoenix, AZ; Tucson, AZ)
Associate Degree | Paralegal
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
East Valley Institute of Technology (Mesa, AZ)
Associate of Applied Science | Law
Everest College Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ)
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Everest College Phoenix – Mesa (Mesa, AZ)
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Fortis College (Phoenix, AZ)
Certificate | Court Reporting
Certificate | Paralegal
Phoenix College (Phoenix, AZ)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal
Certificate of Completion | Paralegal
Arizona Paralegal Association (APA) – Affiliated with the National Association of Legal Assistants, the APA provides opportunities for education and advancement for Arizona paralegals.
Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals (AAIP) – The AAIP exists to protect and preserve the independence of Arizona paralegals and certified legal document preparers.
1. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm