How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Galena Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Galena AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Galena homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices 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 fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Galena AK with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Galena AK paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able 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 actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Galena AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Galena AK.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Galena AK searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee 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 highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Galena AK area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical issues to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Galena AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Galena AK paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Galena AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement 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 students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those schools that are within your Galena AK local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure 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 available to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Galena AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Galena AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Galena AK?
Galena (/ɡəˈliːnə/) (Notaalee Denh in Koyukon) is a city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2010 census the population was 470, with a 2016 estimate of 488 inhabitants. Galena was established in 1918, and a military airfield was built adjacent to the city during World War II. The city was incorporated in 1971.
The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in the area and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon River to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and point for nearby lead ore mines that opened in 1918 and 1919.
In 1941 and 1942, during World War II, a military air field was built adjacent to the civilian airport, and the two facilities shared the runway and flight line facilities. This air field was designated Galena Air Force Station shortly after the split of the United States Air Force from the United States Army, which occurred as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. During the 1950s, the construction of additional military facilities at Galena and the nearby Campion Air Force Station, in support of Galena's mission as a forward operating base under the auspices of the 5072nd Air Base Group, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, provided improvements to the airport and the local infrastructure, causing economic growth for the area.
Following the end of the Cold War, in 1993, operation of Galena Air Force Station was turned over to a contractor, and all military personnel were withdrawn with only small groups of active personnel visiting the base on an as-needed basis. The former military facility remains in use effectively as a forward operating location that is used occasionally by the military. This use came under scrutiny by the Base Realignment and Closure Committee in the late 2000s and was officially closed October 1, 2010. The Air Force retains responsibility for toxin cleanup in the area and engineers from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks still visit the site on occasion. The base is now totally controlled by the City of Galena, the Galena School District and the Alaska Department of Transportation. The Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was pursuing[when?] retaining one of the F-16 fighter hangars as a CAP facility for the CAP Wing in Galena, the "Yukon Squadron".
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Galena AK
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Galena home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Galena AK.
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