In order to become a paralegal in Arizona, you need to enroll into educational programs that teach you how to perform specific duties as a paralegal. The state of Arizona does not have licensing requirements for paralegals and leaves the setting of educational standards to the American Bar Association (ABA). You should attend a school that has accreditation from the ABA or approval from the Arizona State Bar Association for the best possible education. Accreditation is not a requirement for paralegal programs, but it does ensure that you receive an education that meets national standards for paralegals. Ultimately, it is a good idea to attend a school that is accredited by the Arizona State Bar Association or the ABA in order to get the best possible education and employment prospects.
The State Bar Association of Arizona does not require paralegals to register with the organization, but it will accept paralegals for an annual fee. Once a student has graduated, they are qualified to work in a law office as a paralegal without further certification or education. After being hired by a lawyer or law office, the only paralegal requirements in Arizona consists of working under the supervision of an attorney.
What Kind of Paralegal Programs are Available in Arizona?
In Arizona, paralegal educational programs vary. A student can take a certificate program or enroll into a master’s degree program. The amount of education a student undertakes depends on their overall career goals. A student who wants to get an idea of what it’s like to work as a paralegal may prefer to take a certificate program. Someone who wants to start a career as a paralegal is well served by an associate’s degree. More advanced educational options such as a bachelors or masters teach students how to perform a wider range of duties that include working closely with lawyers in specialized areas of the law. Someone who decides to earn an advanced degree in paralegal studies may also want to join the State Bar Association of Arizona to aid in visibility and hiring in order to enhance their desirability as an employee.
Should I Get Certification as a Paralegal in Arizona?
Arizona paralegal certification requirements, as mentioned previously, are not required by the state. However, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) offers a Certified Paralegal credential that demonstrates that you have studied and undergone an exam to become an effective paralegal. Another credential offered by NALA is the Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP). You don’t need a Certified Paralegal credential to take the courses included in the ACP. Some of the courses for the ACP include:
- Real estate principles
- Business organizations
- Land use
- Trial practice
It is up to the individual to decide if they want to join NALA and obtain the Certified Paralegal certification. Those who want to pursue a career as a paralegal in Arizona should consider getting additional qualifications to round out skills and increase the pool of jobs one can apply for.
What are the Different Types of Paralegals?
Earning a certificate or associates degree in paralegal studies qualifies you to work as a paralegal in an Arizona law firm or for an employer who needs a legal professional to handle legal matters that don’t require an attorney. A Paralegal II usually requires a bachelors degree and qualifies the paralegal to assist attorneys with preparation for trials, research and analyze relevant law and prepare complex legal documents such as wills, pleadings, contracts and more. A Paralegal III performs all of the duties that are required of junior titles, but engages in more complex work that is a step below the lawyer in terms of knowledge and experience. A Paralegal III also requires a bachelors degree, but also requires 4-7 years of experience.
How Much Does a Paralegal in Arizona Earn?
The BLS states that the national average salary for a paralegal is $51,740 per year. Actual salary depends on geographical location, experience and employer. Year-end bonuses also increase the average salary. A paralegal who lives in the Phoenix area can expect an average salary of $56,974. A Paralegal II or III earns $78,316 on average. Getting an advanced education in paralegal studies pays off in the form of increased earning power after graduation and as the career advances.
The earning power of a paralegal increases with experience and education. It’s a satisfying career for someone who wants to learn about law, but doesn’t want to become a lawyer. A student that decides to maximize their education prior to finding employment will start with experience through internships and increase their earning potential upon graduation.