How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Program near Craig Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Craig AK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Craig residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Craig AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers 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 rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos 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, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, 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 requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Craig AK is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining 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 Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Craig AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when 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 already discussed, there are other critical issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Craig AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Craig AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Craig AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign 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 may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those schools that are within the Craig AK area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Craig AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Craig AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Craig AK?
If you live near Craig 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.
Craig (Tlingit: Sháan Séet) is a first-class city in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area in the Unorganized BoroughA[›] in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 1,201 at the 2010 census, down from 1,397 in 2000.
Craig is the largest town on Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest island in the USA. Craig is approximately 56 miles (90 km) by air northwest of Ketchikan and 220 miles (350 km) south of Juneau.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24.3 km2), of which, 6.7 square miles (17.4 km2) of it is land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) of it (28.94%) is water.
Become A Legal Assistant Craig AK
Choosing the best legal assistant training school is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Become A Legal Assistant. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Craig residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Craig AK.
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