How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies School near Ketchikan Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Ketchikan AK and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Ketchikan homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Ketchikan AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial 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 lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Ketchikan AK is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Ketchikan AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
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 receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Ketchikan AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Ketchikan AK law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Ketchikan AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want 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 want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Ketchikan AK region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Ketchikan AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Ketchikan AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary 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 address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Ketchikan AK?
If you live near Ketchikan 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.
Ketchikan (/ˈkɛtʃɪkæn/ KETCH-ih-kan;Tlingit: Kichx̱áan) is a city in and the borough seat of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough of Alaska. It is the state's southeasternmost major settlement. Downtown Ketchikan is a National Historic District. With a population at the 2010 census of 8,050, it is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and tenth-most populous community when census-designated places are included. The surrounding borough, encompassing suburbs both north and south of the city along the Tongass Highway (most of which are commonly regarded as a part of Ketchikan, albeit not a part of the city itself), plus small rural settlements accessible mostly by water, registered a population of 13,477 in that same census. Estimates put the 2017 population at 13,754 people. Incorporated on August 25, 1900, Ketchikan is the earliest extant incorporated city in Alaska, because consolidation or unification elsewhere in Alaska resulted in dissolution of those communities' city governments. Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, so named in 1793 by Captain George Vancouver.
Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown. "Ketchikan" comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, the meaning of which is unclear. It may mean "the river belonging to Kitschk"; other accounts claim it means "Thundering Wings of an Eagle". In modern Tlingit this name is rendered as Kichx̱áan.
Ketchikan Creek served as a summer fish camp for Tlingit natives for untold years before the town was established by Mike Martin in 1885. He was sent to the area by an Oregon canning company to assess prospects. He established the saltery Clark & Martin and a general store with Nova Scotia native George Clark who had been foreman at a cannery that burned down.
Master In Legal Studies Online Ketchikan AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal studies training program is an important 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 Master In Legal Studies Online. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Ketchikan residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ketchikan AK.
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