How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Barrow Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Barrow AK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Barrow homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, only 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Barrow AK with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Barrow AK paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Barrow AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Barrow AK.
Online Paralegal Programs
Online paralegal schools have become more common and can be a good alternative for individuals in Barrow AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Barrow AK area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can 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 prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Barrow AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Barrow AK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start developing contacts within the Barrow AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish 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 may need to first investigate those schools that are within your Barrow AK local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Barrow AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Barrow AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Barrow AK?
Utqiagvik, (Inupiaq: Utqiaġvik, IPA: [ut.qe.ɑʁ.βik], English: /ˌʊtkiˈɑːvɪk/ UUT-kee-AH-vik), officially the City of Utqiaġvik,[A] and previously Barrow (/ˈbæroʊ/) is the largest city and the borough seat of the North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska and is located north of the Arctic Circle. It is one of the northernmost public communities in the world and is the northernmost city in the United States. Nearby Point Barrow is the country's northernmost point. Utqiagvik's population was 4,581 at the 2000 census and 4,212 at the 2010 census.
The location has been home to the Iñupiat, an indigenous Inuit ethnic group, for more than 1,500 years. The city's native name, Utqiaġvik, refers to a place for gathering wild roots. It is derived from the Iñupiat word utqiq, also used for "potato". The name was first recorded in 1853 as "Ot-ki-a-wing" by Commander Maguire, Royal Navy,. John Simpson's native map dated 1855, records the name "Otkiawik," which was misprinted on the subsequent British Admiralty Chart as "Otkiovik."
The name Barrow was derived from Point Barrow, and was originally a general designation, because non-native Alaskan residents found it easier to pronounce than the Inupiat name. A post office established in 1901 helped the name "Barrow" to become dominant. Point Barrow was named after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty by explorer Frederick William Beechey in 1825.
In an October 2016 referendum, city voters narrowly approved to change its name from Barrow to its traditional Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. The governor had 45 days to rule on the name change and it was officially adopted on December 1, 2016. City Council member Qaiyaan Harcharek described the name change as supporting use of the Iñupiaq language and being part of a process of "decolonization".
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Barrow AK
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Barrow residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Barrow AK.
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