How to Pick a Paralegal School near Anderson Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Anderson AK and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Anderson homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate 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 academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Anderson AK attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Anderson AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Anderson AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Anderson AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Anderson AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Anderson AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first 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 success 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Anderson AK region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Anderson AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Anderson AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and can be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online 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 quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Anderson AK?
If you live near Anderson 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.
Anderson is a city in the Denali Borough, Alaska, United States, and the borough's only incorporated community. At the 2010 census the population was 246, down from 367 at the 2000 census. The city is named after one of the original homesteaders.
Anderson is named after Arthur Anderson, one of several homesteaders who settled in the area in the late 1950s. In 1959, Anderson subdivided his homestead into house lots and sold most of the lots to civilian workers from Clear Air Force Station, a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System station completed in 1961. An elementary school was built in the community in 1961, and Anderson incorporated as a city on June 2, 1962.
In the 1960s, a road was completed between Anderson and Nenana. A ferry across the Tanana River at Nenana provided access to the Fairbanks–Nenana Highway, and hence to Fairbanks and the contiguous North American highway system via the Richardson and Alaska Highways. The ferry was replaced with a bridge in 1968. In 1972, the George Parks Highway was completed, which provided direct road access to points south, including Anchorage.
Find the Right Paralegal College near Anderson AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Anderson home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Anderson AK.
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