How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Port Lions Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Port Lions AK and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Port Lions residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions 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 different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Port Lions AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, 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 the logistics of a trial 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 level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
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. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Port Lions AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Port Lions AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially 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 searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education 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 Port Lions AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Port Lions AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Port Lions AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within the Port Lions AK region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Port Lions AK. Needless to say that if you choose 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? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Port Lions AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss 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 certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Port Lions AK?
If you live near Port Lions 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.
Port Lions, Alaska
Port Lions (Masiqsirraq in Alutiiq) is a city located on Kodiak Island in the Kodiak Island Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 194, down from 256 in 2000.
Port Lions was built to house the inhabitants of Ag'waneq from the neighboring island of Afognak and Port Wakefield from Raspberry Island, after their villages were destroyed by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. Port Lions was built with help from the United States government and the Lions Club. It was named in honor of the club.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26 km2), of which, 6.3 square miles (16 km2) of it is land and 3.7 square miles (9.6 km2) of it (36.98%) is water.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant College near Port Lions AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding 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 privacy and comfort of your Port Lions residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Port Lions AK.
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