How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Skagway Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Skagway AK and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Skagway residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Skagway AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Skagway AK is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Skagway AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant factors to consider as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Skagway AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Skagway AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Skagway AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those schools that are within the Skagway AK area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Skagway AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Skagway AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Skagway AK?
If you live near Skagway AK or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The Municipality and Borough of Skagway is a first-class borough in Alaska on the Alaska Panhandle. As of the 2010 census, the population was 968. Estimates put the 2015 population at 1,057 people. The population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors. Incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007, it was previously a city (urban Skagway located at 59°27′30″N 135°18′50″W / 59.45833°N 135.31389°W / 59.45833; -135.31389) in the Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Census Area (now the Hoonah–Angoon Census Area).
The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past, is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. Skagway is also part of the setting for Jack London's book The Call of the Wild, Will Hobbs's book Jason's Gold, and for Joe Haldeman's novel, Guardian. The John Wayne film North to Alaska (1960) was filmed nearby.
The name Skagway is derived from shԍagéi, a Tlingit idiom which figuratively refers to rough seas in the Taiya Inlet, which are caused by strong north winds. (See, "Etymology and the Mythical Stone Woman", below.)
Select the Right Legal Assistant School near Skagway AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Skagway residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Skagway AK.
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