How to Find a Paralegal Program near Barrow Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Barrow AK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Barrow homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Barrow AK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Barrow AK is by earning a certificate, which may take just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 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 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Barrow AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Barrow AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Barrow AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Barrow AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Barrow AK area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. 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 also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Barrow AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Barrow AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more popular and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Barrow AK?
If you live near Barrow 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.
Utqiagvik (Inupiaq: Utqiaġvik, IPA: [utqe.ɑʁvik], English: /ˌʊtkiˈɑːvɪk/ UUT-kee-AH-vik), officially the City of Utqiaġvik,[A] and previously Barrow (/ˈbæroʊ/) is the largest city and the borough seat of the North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska and is located north of the Arctic Circle. It is one of the northernmost public communities in the world and is the northernmost city in the United States. Nearby Point Barrow is the country's northernmost point. Utqiagvik's population was 4,581 at the 2000 census and 4,212 at the 2010 census.
The location has been home to the Iñupiat, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, for more than 1,500 years. The city's native name, Utqiaġvik, refers to a place for gathering wild roots. It is derived from the Iñupiat word utqiq, also used for "potato". The name was first recorded in 1853 as "Ot-ki-a-wing" by Commander Rochfort Maguire, Royal Navy. John Simpson's native map dated 1855, records the name "Otkiawik," which was misprinted on the subsequent British Admiralty Chart as "Otkiovik."
The name Barrow was derived from Point Barrow, and was originally a general designation, because non-native Alaskan residents found it easier to pronounce than the Inupiat name. A post office established in 1901 helped the name "Barrow" to become dominant. Point Barrow was named after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty by explorer Frederick William Beechey in 1825.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant Program near Barrow AK
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Barrow residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Barrow AK.
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