How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Juneau Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Juneau AK and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Juneau homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, just 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 legal assistants and paralegals help Juneau AK attorneys with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Juneau AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may take just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Juneau AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school 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 may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Juneau AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Juneau AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Juneau AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Juneau AK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember 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 expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Juneau AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Juneau AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose offers that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum 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 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 structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Juneau AK?
If you live near Juneau 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.
The City and Borough of Juneau (/ˈdʒuːnoʊ/ JOO-noh; Tlingit: Dzánti K'ihéeni [ˈtsántʰì kʼìˈhíːnì]), commonly known as Juneau, is the capital city of Alaska. Located in the Gastineau Channel and the Alaskan panhandle, it is a unified municipality and the second largest city in the United States by area. Juneau was named the capital of Alaska in 1906, when the government of what was then the District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current municipality, which is larger by area than both Rhode Island and Delaware.
Downtown Juneau (58°18′07″N 134°25′11″W / 58.30194°N 134.41972°W / 58.30194; -134.41972) is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,276. In 2018, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,114, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage. Juneau experiences a daily influx of roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September.
The city is named after a gold prospector from Quebec, Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzántik'i Héeni ("Base of the Flounder’s River," dzánti ‘flounder,’ –kʼi ‘base,’ héen ‘river’), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Áak'w ("Little lake," áa ‘lake,’ -kʼ ‘diminutive’) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Legal Assistant Courses Online Juneau AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal certificate program 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 Legal Assistant Courses Online. 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 Juneau residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Juneau AK.
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