How to Choose a Paralegal School near North Pole Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near North Pole AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably know, 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. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their North Pole residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, 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 lawyers in North Pole AK with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a North Pole AK paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career in North Pole AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in North Pole AK.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for students in North Pole AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the process of assessing North Pole AK area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly 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 looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to think about 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 programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many North Pole AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the North Pole AK paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including 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 firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the North Pole AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within your North Pole AK local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in North Pole AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely 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 certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in North Pole AK?
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 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 2,117.
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 is home to two oil refineries, the town's major industry aside from tourism. The larger refinery, operated by Flint Hills Resources, is 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.
While the real North Pole has no terra firma many travelers discovered this town as an ideal way to finally visit the home of Santa Claus. This revelation made this small town in Alaska a must visit during the holidays causing the town to create more and more Santa Claus themed attractions. Its biggest attraction is a gift shop named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post established in the town's early days. The Santa Claus House is known for the world's largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus outside.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near North Pole AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your North Pole home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in North Pole AK.
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