How to Pick the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Thorne Bay Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Thorne Bay AK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Thorne Bay residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Thorne Bay AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Thorne Bay AK is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal 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. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Thorne Bay AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective 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 crucial factors to consider also, including 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 researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Thorne Bay AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Thorne Bay AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Thorne Bay AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement 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 substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Thorne Bay AK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Thorne Bay AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Thorne Bay AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Thorne Bay AK?
If you live near Thorne Bay 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.
Thorne Bay, Alaska
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.4 square miles (79 km2), of which, 25.5 square miles (66 km2) of it is land and 4.8 square miles (12 km2) of it (15.85%) is water.
Thorne Bay first appeared on the 1890 census as the unincorporated settlement of "Tolstoi Bay." It had 17 residents, of which 13 were Native and 4 were White. It would not appear again until 1970 when it returned as Thorne Bay, also an unincorporated village. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980. It formally incorporated in 1982.
As of the census of 2000, there were 557 people and 219 households, including 157 families, residing in the city. The population density was 541.8 people per square mile (8.4/km²). There were 327 housing units at an average density of 12.8 per square mile (4.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.46% Caucasian, 2.87% Alaska Native, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 0.54% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. 1.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Paralegal Online Schools Accredited Thorne Bay AK
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is a vital 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 Online Schools Accredited. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Thorne Bay residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity 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 furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Thorne Bay AK.
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