How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies School near Barrow Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Barrow AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Barrow homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Barrow AK attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Barrow AK is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want 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 improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Barrow AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include 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 driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee 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 as well. Many Barrow AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, 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 Barrow AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Barrow AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those schools that are within the Barrow AK region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Barrow AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Barrow AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and may be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Barrow AK?
If you live near Barrow 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.
Utqiagvik (Inupiaq: Utqiaġvik, IPA: [utqe.ɑʁvik], English: /ˌʊtkiˈɑːvɪk/ UUT-kee-AH-vik), officially the City of Utqiaġvik,[A] and previously Barrow (/ˈbæroʊ/) is the largest city and the borough seat of the North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska and is located north of the Arctic Circle. It is one of the northernmost public communities in the world and is the northernmost city in the United States. Nearby Point Barrow is the country's northernmost point. It is also the northernmost point of the entire American mainland landmass that begins at the very southernmost tip of South America. To go any further north, you would either have to venture into the icy expansive of the Arctic Ocean, or go to the islands of the Arctic Archipelago. Barrow’s population was 4,581 at the 2000 census and 4,212 at the 2010 census.
The location has been home to the Iñupiat, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, for more than 1,500 years. The city's native name, Utqiaġvik, refers to a place for gathering wild roots. It is derived from the Iñupiat word utqiq, also used for "potato". The name was first recorded in 1853 as "Ot-ki-a-wing" by Commander Rochfort Maguire, Royal Navy. John Simpson's native map dated 1855, records the name "Otkiawik," which was misprinted on the subsequent British Admiralty Chart as "Otkiovik."
The name Barrow was derived from Point Barrow, and was originally a general designation, because non-native Alaskan residents found it easier to pronounce than the Inupiat name. A post office established in 1901 helped the name "Barrow" to become dominant. Point Barrow was named after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty by explorer Frederick William Beechey in 1825.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Paralegal Assistant Barrow AK
Enrolling in the right paralegal studies certificate school is a vital 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 How Long Does It Take To Become A Paralegal Assistant. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Barrow residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Barrow AK.
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