How to Pick a Paralegal School near Kotzebue Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kotzebue AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Kotzebue residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate 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 offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Kotzebue AK lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their regular activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather 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 paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Kotzebue AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial 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 training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Kotzebue AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical factors to consider also, for instance 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 considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Kotzebue AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Kotzebue AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Kotzebue AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely 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 reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice 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 justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those colleges that are within the Kotzebue AK region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Kotzebue AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Kotzebue AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Kotzebue AK?
If you live near Kotzebue 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.
Kotzebue (/ˈkɒtsəbjuː/ KOTS-ə-bew) or Kikiktagruk (Inupiaq: Qikiqtaġruk [qekeqtɑʁʐuk]) is a city in the Northwest Arctic Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the borough's seat, by far its largest community and the economic and transportation hub of the subregion of Alaska encompassing the borough. The population of the city was 3,201 as of the 2010 census, up from 3,082 in 2000.
There is archaeological evidence that Inupiat people have lived at Kotzebue since at least the 15th century. Owing to its location and relative size, Kotzebue served as a trading and gathering center for the various communities in the region. The Noatak, Selawik and Kobuk Rivers drain into the Kotzebue Sound near Kotzebue to form a center for transportation to points inland. In addition to people from interior villages, inhabitants of the Russian Far East came to trade at Kotzebue. Furs, seal-oil, hides, rifles, ammunition, and seal skins were some of the items traded. People also gathered for competitions like the current World Eskimo Indian Olympics. With the arrival of the whalers, traders, gold seekers, and missionaries the trading center expanded.
Kotzebue was originally known as Qikiqtaġruk, which means "big island" in Iñupiatun, the language of the Iñupiat. Kotzebue gets its name from the Kotzebue Sound, which was named after Otto von Kotzebue, a Baltic German who explored the sound while searching for the Northwest Passage in the service of Russia in 1818.
Enroll in the Ideal Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Kotzebue AK
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding 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 Kotzebue residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kotzebue AK.
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