How to Choose a Paralegal School near Eielson Afb Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eielson Afb AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within driving range of their Eielson Afb homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Eielson Afb AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Eielson Afb AK is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Eielson Afb AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential 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 important aspects to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Eielson Afb 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 offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Eielson Afb AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Eielson Afb AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Eielson Afb AK area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Eielson Afb AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Eielson Afb AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more popular and can be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Eielson Afb AK?
If you live near Eielson Afb 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.
Eielson Air Force Base
Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: EIL, ICAO: PAEI, FAA LID: EIL) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska and just southeast of Moose Creek, Alaska. It was established in 1943 as Mile 26 Satellite Field and taken off deployment in 2007. It has been a Superfund site since 1989.
Its host unit is the 354th Fighter Wing (354 FW) assigned to the Eleventh Air Force of the Pacific Air Forces. The 354 FW's primary mission is to support Red Flag – Alaska, a series of Pacific Air Forces commander–directed field training exercises for U.S. Forces, joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close-air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment. These exercises are conducted on the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range complex with air operations flown out of the two bases.
Eielson is home to the 354th Fighter Wing which is part of the Eleventh Air Force (11 AF) of Pacific Air Forces. The 354th Fighter Wing mission is "To train, deliver, maintain and support combat power across the globe while taking care of our people, their families and our infrastructure." To accomplish that mission, the wing implements flying operations, mission support, maintenance and medical care functions and is host to 10 tenant units.
Choose the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Eielson Afb AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Eielson Afb residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and 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 profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed 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 evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Eielson Afb AK.
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