How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Pelican Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Pelican AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving distance of their Pelican homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Pelican AK lawyers with a wide variety 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 might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers 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 complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Pelican AK is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might 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 improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Pelican AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Pelican AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Pelican AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Pelican AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Pelican AK area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Pelican AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Pelican AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Pelican AK?
If you live near Pelican 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.
Pelican (Tlingit: K'udeis'X̱'e) is a city in the northwestern part of Chichagof Island in Hoonah-Angoon Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 88, down from 163 at the 2000 census.
Pelican is located on the east side of Lisianski Inlet, a body of water that opens into Lisianski Strait and Cross Sound, on Chichagof Island at coordinates 57°57′30″N 136°13′27″W / 57.95833°N 136.22417°W / 57.95833; -136.22417 (57.958431, -136.224069).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.73 square miles (1.9 km2), of which 0.62 square miles (1.6 km2) are land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2), or 16.25%, are water.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Program near Pelican AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Pelican home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Pelican AK.
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