How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Certificate Program near Petersburg Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Petersburg AK and begin your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within commuting range of their Petersburg homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same 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 belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Petersburg AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Petersburg AK is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Petersburg AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Petersburg AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Petersburg AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Petersburg AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Petersburg AK area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Petersburg AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Petersburg AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Petersburg AK?
If you live near Petersburg 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.
Petersburg (Tlingit: Gantiyaakw Séedi "Steamboat Channel") is a census-designated place (CDP) in Petersburg Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 2,948 at the 2010 census, down from 3,224 in 2000.
The borough encompasses Petersburg and Kupreanof, plus mostly uninhabited areas stretching to the Canadian–American border and the southern boundary of the City and Borough of Juneau. While the city of Petersburg ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity (the borough assembly created a service area to assume operation of the former city's services), the tiny city of Kupreanof remains separate within the borough.
Tlingits from Kupreanof Island had long used a summer fish camp at the north end of Mitkof Island. Earlier cultures of indigenous people also used the island: remnants of fish traps and some petroglyphs have been carbon-dated back some 1,000 years.
BS Legal Studies Petersburg AK
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies degree school is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about BS Legal Studies. But 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 Petersburg home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Petersburg AK.
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