How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Galena Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Galena AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best 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 alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Galena residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Galena AK attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. 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 confined to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Galena 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 offer a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Galena AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out 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 also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Galena AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking 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 Galena AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Galena AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Galena AK region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Galena AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Galena AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Galena AK?
If you live near Galena 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.
Galena (/ɡəˈliːnə/) (Notaalee Denh in Koyukon) is a city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 470, with a 2016 estimate of 488 inhabitants. Galena was established in 1918, and a military airfield was built adjacent to the city during World War II. The city was incorporated in 1971.
The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in the area and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon River to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and point for nearby lead ore mines that opened in 1918 and 1919.
In 1941 and 1942, during World War II, a military air field was built adjacent to the civilian airport, and the two facilities shared the runway and flight line facilities. This air field was designated Galena Air Force Station shortly after the split of the United States Air Force from the United States Army, which occurred as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. During the 1950s, the construction of additional military facilities at Galena and the nearby Campion Air Force Station, in support of Galena's mission as a forward operating base under the auspices of the 5072nd Air Base Group, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, provided improvements to the airport and the local infrastructure, causing economic growth for the area.
Select the Best Legal Assistant School near Galena AK
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Galena home. Paralegal education programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Galena AK.
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