How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant Program near Eagle River Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Eagle River AK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Eagle River homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Eagle River AK attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Eagle River AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Eagle River AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn 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 many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Eagle River AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Eagle River AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide 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 offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Eagle River AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out 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 substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Eagle River AK area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Eagle River AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Eagle River AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online 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 school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Eagle River AK?
If you live near Eagle River 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.
Eagle River, Anchorage
Eagle River is a community within the Municipality of Anchorage situated on the Eagle River for which it is named, between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Chugach State Park in the Chugach Mountains. Its ZIP code is 99577. If Eagle River were not part of the Municipality of Anchorage, it would be classified as one of the five largest cities in Alaska.
The name Eagle River was first reported in 1939 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Eagle River/Chugiak area was settled by homesteaders and prospered on agricultural activities. The Eagle River post office was established in 1961.
In spite of some local opposition, both Chugiak and Eagle River became annexed to the Municipality of Anchorage, when the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough were unified in 1975. Efforts to secede from the Municipality surfaced around 2000, but are no longer prominent as the community has seen an influx of individuals who have social and economic ties to Anchorage and the nearby Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson.
Getting A Paralegal Certificate Eagle River AK
Choosing the right paralegal training school is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Getting A Paralegal Certificate. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Eagle River home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Eagle River AK.
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