How to Find a Paralegal Program near Valdez Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Valdez AK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Valdez homes. Of those choices, 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 must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part 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 classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Valdez AK lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, 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 abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional 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 authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand 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 Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Valdez AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Valdez AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Valdez AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Valdez AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Valdez AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first consider those colleges that are within the Valdez AK region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Valdez AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Valdez AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Valdez AK?
If you live near Valdez 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.
Valdez (/vælˈdiːz, vəlˈdɛz/; Alutiiq: Suacit) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976, down from 4,036 in 2000. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered huge damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.
The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A scam to lure prospectors off the Klondike Gold Rush trail led to a town being developed there in 1898. Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better route for miners to reach the Klondike gold fields and discover new ones in the Copper River country of interior Alaska than that from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported, and many men died attempting the crossing, in part by contracting scurvy during the long cold winter without adequate supplies. The town did not flourish until after the construction of the Richardson Highway in 1899, which connected Valdez and Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska. The highway was open in summer-only until 1950, when it was operated as a year-round route.
In 1907, a shootout between two rival railroad companies ended Valdez's hope of becoming the railroad link from tidewater to the Kennicott Copper Mine. The mine, located in the heart of the Wrangell-St.Elias Mountains, was one of the richest copper ore deposits on the continent. The exact location of the right-of-way dispute, in which one man was killed and several injured, is located at the southern entrance of Keystone Canyon on the Valdez side. A half-completed tunnel in the canyon marks the end of railroad days in Valdez. A rail line to Kennicott was later established from the coastal city of Cordova.
Select the Best Legal Assistant College near Valdez AK
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Valdez residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford 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 provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Valdez AK.
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