How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Wrangell Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wrangell AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Wrangell homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Wrangell AK lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Wrangell AK is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first 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 understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wrangell AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching 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 select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Wrangell AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying 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 verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Wrangell AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Wrangell AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Wrangell AK region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Wrangell AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wrangell AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wrangell AK?
If you live near Wrangell 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 City and Borough of Wrangell (Tlingit: Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw) is a borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census the population was 2,369, up from 2,308 in 2000. Incorporated as a Unified Home Rule Borough on May 30, 2008, Wrangell was previously a city in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area (afterwards renamed the Petersburg Census Area (the Petersburg Borough was formed from part of this census area)). Its Tlingit name is Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw ("Ḵaachx̱ans Little Lake" with áa-kʼw 'lake-diminutive'). The Tlingit people residing in the Wrangell area, who were there centuries before Europeans, call themselves the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan after the nearby Stikine River. Alternately they use the autonym Shxʼát Ḵwáan, where the meaning of shxʼát is unknown.
The central (urban) part of Wrangell is located at 56°28′15″N 132°22′36″W / 56.47083°N 132.37667°W / 56.47083; -132.37667, in the northwest corner of Wrangell Island, whereas the borough now encompasses the entire eastern half of the former Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, in addition to the area around Meyers Chuck, which was formerly in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area. It also includes Thoms Place, a former census-designated place on Wrangell Island.
Tlingit people and their ancestors have inhabited this island for thousands of years. According to Naanyaa.aayí clan traditions, Tlingit people migrated down the Stikine River during a time when the river still flowed underneath glaciers. The population slowly moved down the river, settling in different locations such as Tlákw.aan "Ancient Village", Sʼiknáx̱ "Across from the Grass", Shaal.aan "Fish Trap Town", Xakw.aan "Sandbar Village", and Kayáash "Platform", Hehl (Xel/Xehl) "Foam People", Hehl being the senior of house of the village.
Find the Ideal Paralegal School near Wrangell AK
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Wrangell residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wrangell AK.
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