How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Program near North Pole Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near North Pole AK and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for schools within traveling distance of their North Pole residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help North Pole AK lawyers with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific 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 may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, 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 administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in North Pole AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first 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 offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the North Pole AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 also. A number of North Pole AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few North Pole AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though 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 offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the North Pole AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within the North Pole AK region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in North Pole AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near North Pole AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select offers that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near North Pole AK?
If you live near North Pole 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.
North Pole, Alaska
North Pole is a small city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, United States. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska metropolitan statistical area. As of the 2016 United States Census, the city had a population of 2,232, up from 1,570 in 2000.
The name "North Pole" is often applied to the entire area covered by its zip code, 99705. This area stretches between Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, and between the Chena River and the Tanana River, including subdivisions off of Badger Road, a loop road connecting the eastern edge of Fairbanks city limits with North Pole city limits, and in the nearby census-designated place of Moose Creek. Despite the name, the city is about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) south of Earth's geographic North Pole and 125 miles (200 km) south of the Arctic Circle.
The city is a summertime attraction for tourists visiting nearby Fairbanks and, due to its location on the Richardson Highway, those traveling to and from the Alaska Highway and Valdez. North Pole was home to two oil refineries, the town's major industry aside from tourism, but closed because of sulofane contamination in ground water. The larger refinery, operated by Flint Hills Resources, was a major source of jet fuel for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Tanker car traffic on the Alaska Railroad, entering and leaving the refinery, frequently bisects the city.
Paralegal Training Cost North Pole AK
Choosing the ideal legal assistant training program is an essential 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 Paralegal Training Cost. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your North Pole home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in North Pole AK.
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