Find Paralegal Certificate Schools near Prescott Valley AZ 86312

How to Choose a Paralegal College near Prescott Valley Arizona

Prescott Valley AZ paralegal working with attorneyCongratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Prescott Valley AZ and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Prescott Valley residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.

What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?

Prescott Valley AZ law libraryParalegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Prescott Valley AZ with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities might include:

  • Researching and fact checking cases
  • Researching related cases and laws
  • Drafting correspondence and legal documents
  • Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
  • Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
  • Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records

With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Prescott Valley AZ paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.

Paralegal Education and Certification

law books and Prescott Valley AZ judge's gavelAs we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Prescott Valley AZ as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arizona to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field are:

  • National Federation of Paralegal Associations
  • American Alliance of Paralegals
  • National Association of Legal Assistants
  • National Association for Legal Professionals

By graduating with a degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Prescott Valley AZ.

Paralegal Online Classes

attending paralegal school online in Prescott Valley AZOnline paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those in Prescott Valley AZ searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.

Things to Ask Paralegal Programs

Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Prescott Valley AZ area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.

Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Prescott Valley AZ law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.

What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Prescott Valley AZ paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.

Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Prescott Valley AZ legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.

Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arizona legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.

Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those schools that are within your Prescott Valley AZ local area.

How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Prescott Valley AZ. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.

Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Prescott Valley AZ, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.

Considering Paralegal School in Prescott Valley AZ?

Prescott Valley, Arizona

Prescott Valley is a town with a current population (October 2016) of about 45,500 residents. It is located in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States, about 8 miles east of Prescott, which it has surpassed in growth. Prescott Valley was the seventh fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona between 1990 and 2000.

Prescott Valley (locally, PV) is located in central Arizona approximately 85 miles (137 km) north of Phoenix at 5,100 feet (1,600 m). elevation. PV has good access to Arizona State Route 89, SR-89A and SR-69, connecting to Interstates 17 and 40. Air service is available at Ernest A. Love Field, about 8 miles (13 km) northwest.

One of PV’s landmarks, Glassford Hill (elevation 6,177 feet (1,883 m)) was once an active volcano between 10 and 14 million years ago.[4] Colonel William A. Glassford traveled the area in the 1880s and helped build a system of 27 heliograph stations to monitor the movements of Apache Indians, U.S. military troops and civilians. Glassford Hill was a part of that early communications system.[5]

The Walker party discovered gold along Lynx Creek[6] in 1863. The Lynx Creek placers went on to produce a recorded 29,000 troy ounces (900 kg) of gold. Estimates of actual production range up to 80,000 troy ounces (2,500 kg), which would be worth about $108 million at 2017 prices.[7]

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Enroll in the Right Paralegal Program near Prescott Valley AZ

Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Prescott Valley home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Prescott Valley AZ.

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