How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Haines Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Haines AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Haines residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Haines AK with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist 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 just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing 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 responsibilities, the job of a Haines AK paralegal can be complex 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 action. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Haines AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Haines AK.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for those in Haines AK looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address 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 certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Haines AK area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential 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 important aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Haines AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Haines AK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good 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 several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Haines AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. 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 wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Haines AK local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, 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 as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Haines AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Haines AK, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Haines AK?
Haines (Tlingit: Deishú) is a census-designated place located in Haines Borough, Alaska, United States. It is in the northern part of the Alaska Panhandle, near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
The area around present-day Haines was called Dtehshuh or "end of the trail" by the Chilkat group of Tlingit. It received this name because they could portage (carry) their canoes from the trail they used to trade with the interior, which began at the outlet of the Chilkat River, to Dtehshuh and save 20 miles (32 km) of rowing around the Chilkat Peninsula.
The first European, George Dickinson, an agent for the North West Trading Company, settled at Dtehshuh in 1879. In 1881, the Chilkat asked Sheldon Jackson to send missionaries to the area. Samuel Hall Young, a Presbyterian minister, was sent. Jackson built the Chilkat Mission and school at Dtehshuh in 1881, on land given to the church by the Chilkat. The Mission was renamed "Haines" in 1884 in honor of Francina E. Haines, the chairwoman of the committee that raised funds for its construction.
At the time, the boundary between Canada and the U.S. was disputed and vaguely defined. There were overlapping land claims from the United States' purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 and British claims along the coast. Canada had requested a survey after British Columbia united with it in 1871, but the idea was rejected by the United States as being too costly given the area's remoteness, sparse settlement, and limited economic or strategic interest.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Haines AK
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Haines home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Haines AK.
Other Cool Cities in Alaska