How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Hoonah Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hoonah AK and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Hoonah residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, just 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 classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Hoonah AK with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Hoonah AK paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Hoonah AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish 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, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Hoonah AK.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for those in Hoonah AK looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Hoonah AK area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Hoonah AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Hoonah AK paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Hoonah AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial 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’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within your Hoonah AK local area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. 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 reduce some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Hoonah AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Hoonah AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hoonah AK?
Hoonah (Xunaa in Tlingit) is a largely Tlingit community on Chichagof Island, located in Alaska's panhandle in the southeast region of the state. It is 30 miles (48 km) west of Juneau, across the Alaskan Inside Passage. Hoonah is the only first-class city on Chichagof Island, the 109th largest island in the world and the 5th largest island in the United States. At the 2010 census the population was 760, down from 860 at the 2000 census. In the summer the population can swell to over 1,300 depending on fishing, boating, hiking and hunting conditions. "Hoonah" became the official spelling in 1901, with establishment of the Hoonah branch of the United States Post Office.Xunaa means "protected from the North Wind" in the Tlingit language.
The clans comprising the Huna Tlingit originally settled what is now Glacier Bay National Park as well as Icy Strait, Cross Sound, and the outer coast north to Sea Otter Creek. Two catastrophic events forced the Tlingit from their homeland; rapid glacial advance in Glacier Bay and a landslide-induced tsunami in Lituya Bay along the outer coast. Tlingit oral tradition recounts these events as well as the clans' ultimate resettlement in Xunaa.
Sheldon Jackson established the first school house and teacher's residence in November 1881. The school was initially overseen by Mr. and Mrs. Walter B. Styles of New York until their transfer to Sitka in 1882. The Reverend and Mrs. John McFarland assumed responsibility for the school in 1884, and by 1885 219 Tlingit students were enrolled: 69 boys, 76 girls and 74 adults. A territorial school and government school were built in 1923. In 1932 the government school was demolished and replaced by a Bureau of Indian Affairs school.
The Hoonah Packing Company ("HPC"), built in 1912, was one of eight canneries operating in the area during the early twentieth century, representing Hoonah's major industry at the time. HPC was sold several times until coming to be owned by Wards Cove Packing, which also owned Hoonah Trading. The cannery ceased operating in 1954, but continued to see use by commercial fishermen for storing and repairing their boats and gear.
Select the Best Paralegal Program near Hoonah AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Hoonah home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Hoonah AK.
Other Cool Cities in Alaska