How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Homer Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Homer AK and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by trying to find schools within commuting distance of their Homer homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 Homer AK attorneys with a wide range of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, 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 follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a legal assistant in Homer AK is by earning a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Homer AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to consider as well, such as 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 investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Homer AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as 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 Homer AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Homer AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Homer AK area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Homer AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Homer AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing 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 secondary expenditures 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 certain that the program and school 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 structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Homer AK?
If you live near Homer 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.
Homer is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is 218 miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the 2010 Census, the population is 5,003, up from 3,946 in 2000. Long known as The "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Homer is also nicknamed "the end of the road," and more recently, "the cosmic hamlet by the sea."
Homer is on the shore of Kachemak Bay on the southwest side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its distinguishing feature is the Homer Spit, a narrow 4.5 mi (7.2 km)) long gravel bar that extends into the bay, on which is located the Homer Harbor.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.4 square miles (58 km2), of which 10.6 square miles (27 km2) is land and 11.9 square miles (31 km2) is water. The total area is 52.83% water.
Associate Degree In Paralegal Homer AK
Selecting the ideal paralegal training program 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 Associate Degree In Paralegal. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Homer home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Homer AK.
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