How to Find a Paralegal Training Program near Juneau Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Juneau AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Juneau residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable 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 assist lawyers in Juneau AK with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Juneau AK paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical duties 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, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs 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 educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Juneau AK as a paralegal is by obtaining 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 furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Juneau AK.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for individuals in Juneau AK searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Juneau AK area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Juneau AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Juneau AK paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Juneau AK legal community. 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 entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering 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 corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within your Juneau AK local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Juneau AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Juneau AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Juneau AK?
The City and Borough of Juneau (/ˈdʒuːnoʊ/ JOO-noh; Tlingit: Dzánti K'ihéeni [ˈtsántʰì kʼìˈhíːnì]), commonly known as Juneau, is the capital city of Alaska. It is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the Alaskan panhandle, and it is the second largest city in the United States by area. Juneau has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of what was then the District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900. The municipality unified on July 1, 1970, when the city of Juneau merged with the city of Douglas and the surrounding Greater Juneau Borough to form the current municipality, which is larger by area than both Rhode Island and Delaware.
Downtown Juneau (58°18′07″N 134°25′11″W / 58.30194°N 134.41972°W / 58.30194; -134.41972) is nestled at the base of Mount Juneau and across the channel from Douglas Island. As of the 2010 census, the City and Borough had a population of 31,276. In 2014, the population estimate from the United States Census Bureau was 32,406, making it the second most populous city in Alaska after Anchorage.Fairbanks, however, is the second most populous metropolitan area in the state, with roughly 100,000 residents. Juneau's daily population can increase by roughly 6,000 people from visiting cruise ships between the months of May and September.
The city is named after a gold prospector from Quebec, Joe Juneau, though the place was for a time called Rockwell and then Harrisburg (after Juneau's co-prospector, Richard Harris). The Tlingit name of the town is Dzántik'i Héeni ("Base of the Flounder’s River," dzánti ‘flounder,’ –kʼi ‘base,’ héen ‘river’), and Auke Bay just north of Juneau proper is called Áak'w ("Little lake," áa ‘lake,’ -kʼ ‘diminutive’) in Tlingit. The Taku River, just south of Juneau, was named after the cold t'aakh wind, which occasionally blows down from the mountains.
Juneau is rather unusual among U.S. capitals (except Honolulu, Hawaii) in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America (although ferry service is available for cars). The absence of a road network is due to the extremely rugged terrain surrounding the city. This in turn makes Juneau a de facto island city in terms of transportation, since all goods coming in and out must go by plane or boat, in spite of the city being located on the Alaskan mainland. Downtown Juneau sits at sea level, with tides averaging 16 feet (5 m), below steep mountains about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) high. Atop these mountains is the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow; two of these, the Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier, are visible from the local road system. The Mendenhall glacier has been gradually retreating; its front face is declining both in width and height.
Select the Ideal Paralegal College near Juneau AK
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward 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 attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Juneau home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Juneau AK.
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