How to Choose a Paralegal Program near Kenai Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kenai AK and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Kenai homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Kenai AK with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing 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 preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Kenai AK paralegal can be complicated and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
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. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Kenai AK as a paralegal is by obtaining 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 expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, 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 may not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kenai AK.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for students in Kenai AK looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Kenai AK area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. 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 also. A number of Kenai AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Kenai AK paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm 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 graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Kenai AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within your Kenai AK local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Kenai AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Kenai AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Kenai AK?
Kenai (/ˈkiːnaɪ/, KEY-nigh) (Dena'ina: Shk'ituk't) is a city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 7,100 as of the 2010 census, up from 6,942 in 2000.
The city of Kenai is named after the local Dena'ina (Tanaina) word 'ken' or 'kena', which means 'flat, meadow, open area with few trees; base, low ridge', according to the Dena'ina Topical Dictionary by James Kari, Ph.D., published in 2007. This describes the area along the mouth and portion of the Kenai River near the City of Kenai. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was first occupied by the Kachemak people from 1000 B.C., until they were displaced by the Dena'ina Athabaskan people around 1000 A.D. Before the arrival of the Russians, Kenai was a Dena'ina village called Shk'ituk't, meaning "where we slide down." When Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741, about 1,000 Dena'ina lived in the village. The traders called the people "Kenaitze", which is a Russian term for "people of the flats", or "Kenai people". This name was later adopted when they were incorporated as the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in the early 1970s.
In 1786 Pytor Zaikov built Fort Nikolaevskaia for the Lebedev-Lastochkin Company on the site of modern Kenai, being the first European settlement on the Alaskan mainland. Hostilities surfaced between the natives and settlers in 1797, culminating in an incident in which the Dena'ina attacked Fort St. Nicholas, later dubbed the battle of Kenai. Over one hundred deaths occurred from all involved parties. Later, in 1838, the introduction of smallpox killed one half of the Dena'ina population.
The establishment of shipping companies in the early 1900s broadened Kenai into a port city. Canning companies were established and helped fuel the commercial fishing boom that was the primary activity through the 1920s.
Find the Best Paralegal Training near Kenai AK
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Kenai residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kenai AK.
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