How to Become a Paralegal in Arizona
Many opportunities exist for those who want to become a paralegal in Arizona. A paralegal helps lawyers prepare for legal proceedings by interviewing witnesses, interacting with clients, investigating research, filing court papers and drafting affidavits and legal documents. Paralegals do many tasks but don’t represent clients in court or give legal advice. In Arizona, a paralegal must work under the supervision of a lawyer licensed to practice in the state. However, a paralegal who becomes a Certified Legal Document Preparer in Arizona can draft legal documents without an attorney present
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Arizona interests you, these are the steps you’ll need to follow:
Find out what paralegals do.
Make sure you know as much as you can about working as a paralegal in Arizona before pursuing educational options.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Local chapters of professional organizations, like the Arizona Paralegal Association (APA) or the Tucson Paralegal Association (TPA), are good sources for finding paralegals who may be willing to give you advice.
Choose an educational program.
You’ll be more attractive to employers if you have a post-secondary education that shows you have knowledge of the legal system.
Research job opportunities.
Private law firms employ the majority of paralegals. There also are jobs in local, state and federal government agencies. Many large businesses use paralegals in in-house legal departments.
Get work experience.
You can gain legal experience via internships or entry-level administrative jobs while still in school. Options also include volunteering with pro bono organizations such as Community Legal Services, Inc. in Arizona.
Find your first job.
With a solid educational background and some experience, you’ll be a competitive candidate for the best paralegal jobs in Arizona.
Education Requirements in Arizona
There are no minimum education requirements to become a paralegal in Arizona. However, a paralegal degree or certificate shows you can contribute from your first day on the job. In Arizona, you’ll find the following online and on-campus programs:
- Certificate in Paralegal Studies from community colleges or four-year colleges
- Two-year associate’s degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Four-year bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies at colleges and universities
- Master’s degree in Legal Studies at universities
- Post-Degree Certificates in Paralegal Studies at colleges and universities
- Voluntary national certifications for experienced paralegals:
- Professional Paralegal (PP) certification from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) from NFPA
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) from NALA for CP paralegals who master specific courses administered by NALA
- Paralegals in Arizona also can become Certified Legal Document Preparers via the Alabama Supreme Court. This allows non-legal personnel to prepare legal documents without the supervision of a lawyer.
Paralegal Licensure in Arizona
There is no requirement for licensure to work as a paralegal in Arizona, but just because there is no regulation doesn’t mean positions in law firms will be easy to find if you don’t have an educational foundation from an accredited school.
Paralegal Salary in Arizona
The median annual wage for paralegals nationally is $47,770 says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Paralegal salary often depends upon years of experience in the field and education level attained. Location also plays a factor, with those who work in metropolitan areas earning more. For example, the mean annual wage for paralegals in the Phoenix area is $51,410 says the BLS.
Career Opportunities and Job Growth in Arizona
There are currently 5,550 paralegals employed in Arizona, with 4,450 holding jobs in the greater Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area alone. Jobs for paralegals in Arizona are expected to grow by 24 percent through 2026, yielding 210 new paralegal jobs per year throughout the state.
As a paralegal in Arizona, you will benefit from joining national or regional professional organizations. These groups are good sources for mentoring, professional development, certification preparation and community service opportunities in the state. If you earn certification, professional groups also can help you earn continuing education credits. The following organizations support paralegals in Arizona:
- Arizona Paralegal Association (APA), an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc., (NALA)
- Maricopa County Bar Association (MCBA) Paralegal Division
- Tucson Paralegal Association, Inc. (TPA), an affiliate of NALA
- Arizona Association of Independent Paralegals (AAIP) for paralegals who are Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparers
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