How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Craig Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Craig AK and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Craig residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, 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 paralegals and legal assistants assist Craig AK attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal in Craig AK is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the benefits 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.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Craig AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get 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 receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Craig AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Craig AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Craig AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first look at those colleges that are within the Craig AK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Craig AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Craig AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Craig AK?
If you live near Craig 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.
Craig (Tlingit: Sháan Séet) is a first-class city in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area in the Unorganized BoroughA[›] in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 1,201 at the 2010 census, down from 1,397 in 2000.
Craig is the largest town on Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest island in the USA. Craig is approximately 56 miles (90 km) by air northwest of Ketchikan and 220 miles (350 km) south of Juneau.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24.3 km2), of which, 6.7 square miles (17.4 km2) of it is land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) of it (28.94%) is water.
Choose the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Craig AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Craig home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Craig AK.
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