How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Cordova Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cordova AK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Cordova homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Cordova AK with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Cordova AK paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Cordova AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can require just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Cordova AK.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students in Cordova AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Cordova AK area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to 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 looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can 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 demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Cordova AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Cordova AK paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Cordova AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Cordova AK local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Cordova AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Cordova AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Cordova AK?
Cordova (/kɔːrˈdoʊvə, ˈkɔːrdəvə/) is a small town located near the mouth of the Copper River in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States, at the head of Orca Inlet on the east side of Prince William Sound. The population was 2,239 at the 2010 census, down from 2,454 in 2000. Cordova was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. No roads connect Cordova to other Alaskan towns, so a plane or ferry is required to travel there. In the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989, an oil tanker ran aground northwest of Cordova, heavily damaging ecology and fishing. It was cleaned up shortly after, but there are lingering effects, such as a lowered population of some birds.
In 1790 the inlet in front of the current Cordova townsite was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo, after Spanish admiral Luis de Córdova y Córdova. The town of Cordova was named after it, although the inlet itself was later renamed the Orca Inlet. Cordova proper was founded as a result of the discovery of high-grade copper ore at Kennecott, north of Cordova. A group of surveyors from Valdez laid out a town site and Michael James Heney purchased half the land for the terminus of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway after determining that the neighboring town of Katalla was a poor harbor. Heney and his crew held a brief ceremony to organize the town on March 26, 1906. A week later crews arrived to begin work on the railroad. The first lots in the new town site, which make up the heart of present-day Cordova, were sold at auction in May 1908. As the railroad grew, so did the town. Eventually schools, businesses, a hospital, and utilities were established. After the railroad was completed Cordova became the transportation hub for the ore coming out of Kennecott. In the years 1911 to 1938, more than 200 million tons of copper ore was transported through Cordova.
The area around Cordova was historically home to the Eyak, with a population of Chugach to the west, and occasional visits from Ahtna and Tlingit people for trade or battle. The last full-blooded Eyak Marie Smith Jones died in 2008, but the native traditions and lifestyle still has an influence on the local culture. Cordova was also once the home of a booming razor clam industry, and between 1916 and the late 1950s it was known as the "Razor Clam Capital of the World". Commercial harvest in the area was as much as 3.5 million pounds. Returns began declining in the late 1950s, presumably due to overharvesting and a large die-off in 1958. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake effectively and completely obliterated the industry; in some areas, the ground was thrust up by as much as six feet, exposing the already depleted clam beds. There has been no commercial harvest in the area since 1988 with the exception of a brief harvest in 1993.
In March 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef northwest of Cordova causing one of the most devastating environmental disasters in North America. The Exxon Valdez oil spill severely affected the area's salmon and herring populations leading to a recession of the local fishing-reliant economy as well as disrupting the general ecology of the area. After many years of litigation, 450 million dollars were awarded for compensatory and punitive damages.
Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Cordova AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step toward 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 comfort and privacy of your Cordova residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Cordova AK.
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