How to Find a Paralegal School near Kodiak Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kodiak AK and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive 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 more and more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Kodiak residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into consideration too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, 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 assist lawyers in Kodiak 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 relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Kodiak AK paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Kodiak AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory 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. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kodiak AK.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be an excellent option for students in Kodiak AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online 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 caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Kodiak AK area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Kodiak AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Kodiak AK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished 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 have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Kodiak AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide 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 finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement 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 students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Kodiak AK local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Kodiak AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Kodiak AK, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Kodiak AK?
Kodiak (Alutiiq: Sun'aq; Russian: Кадьяк, tr. Kadʹyak) is one of seven communities and the main city on Kodiak Island, Kodiak Island Borough, in the U.S. state of Alaska. All commercial transportation between the entire island and the outside world goes through this city either via ferryboat or airline. The population was 6,130 as of the 2010 census. 2014 estimates put the population at 6,304.
After the Alaska Purchase by the United States in 1867, Kodiak became a commercial fishing center which continues to be the mainstay of its economy. A lesser economic influence includes tourism, mainly by those seeking outdoor adventure trips. Salmon, halibut, the unique Kodiak bear, elk, Sitka deer (black tail), and mountain goats attract hunting tourists as well as fishermen to the Kodiak Archipelago. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game maintains an office in the city and a website to help hunters and fishermen obtain the proper permits and learn about the laws specific to the Kodiak area.
The city has four public elementary schools, a middle and high school, as well as a branch of the University of Alaska. An antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain above the city historically provided communication with the outside world before fiber optic cable was run. Transportation to and from the island is provided by ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway as well as local commercial airlines.
The Kodiak Archipelago has been home to the Alutiiq for over 7,000 years. In their language, qikertaq means "island". In 1763, the Russian explorer Stephan Glotov discovered the island, calling it Kad’yak (Кадьяк). He was followed by the British captain James Cook fifteen years later, who first recorded "Kodiak" in his journals in 1778.
Select the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Kodiak AK
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital 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 at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kodiak home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced 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 greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kodiak AK.
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