How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Tanacross Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Tanacross AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Tanacross homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Tanacross AK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Tanacross AK is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of 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, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Tanacross AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 critical aspects to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Tanacross AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Tanacross AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Tanacross AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Tanacross AK area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Tanacross AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Tanacross AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Tanacross AK?
If you live near Tanacross 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.
Tanacross (Taats’altęy in Tanacross Athabascan) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 136, down from 140 in 2000. It hosts an air tanker base.
Tanacross, initially founded as a telegraph station called Tanana Crossing (also known as St. Timothy's). The name was shortened to Tanacross before 1940. The village was initially located on the north bank of the Tanana River. An airstrip was built on the south bank during the mid-1930s and upgraded for military use during World War II in 1941-42. Thousands of troops deployed through Tanacross during the period. The airfield was closed after the war. In 1972, the town itself relocated south across the river due to water contamination. In 1979, the old village burned due to an uncontrolled grass fire.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 81.2 square miles (210 km2), of which, 80.0 square miles (207 km2) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it (1.38%) is water.
Find the Best Paralegal Training near Tanacross AK
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Tanacross residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Tanacross AK.
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