How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Program near Kodiak Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kodiak AK and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within driving range of their Kodiak residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take 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 comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Kodiak AK lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Kodiak AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can 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 an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first 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 about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kodiak AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kodiak 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 available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Kodiak AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Kodiak AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Kodiak AK region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Kodiak AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kodiak AK, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more 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 program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Kodiak AK?
If you live near Kodiak Alaska or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Kodiak (Alutiiq: Sun'aq; Russian: Кадьяк, tr. Kadʹyak) is one of seven communities and the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. All commercial transportation between the entire island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline. The population was 6,130 as of the 2010 census. 2014 estimates put the population at 6,304.
After the Alaska Purchase by the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a commercial fishing center which continues to be the mainstay of its economy. A lesser economic influence includes tourism, mainly by those seeking outdoor adventure trips. Salmon, halibut, the unique Kodiak bear, elk, Sitka deer (black tail), and mountain goats attract hunting tourists as well as fishermen to the Kodiak Archipelago. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game maintains an office in the city and a website to help hunters and fishermen obtain the proper permits and learn about the laws specific to the Kodiak area.
The city has four public elementary schools, a middle and high school, as well as a branch of the University of Alaska. An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city historically provided communication with the outside world before fiber optic cable was run. Transportation to and from the island is provided by ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway as well as local commercial airlines.
Online Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies Kodiak AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal studies certificate school is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Kodiak home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kodiak AK.
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