How to Find a Paralegal Program near Nikiski Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Nikiski AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Nikiski homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic 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 for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Nikiski AK with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon 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 practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Nikiski AK paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number 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 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 means to begin your career in Nikiski AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require just six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Nikiski AK.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for those in Nikiski AK searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Nikiski AK area schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Nikiski AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Nikiski AK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Nikiski AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within your Nikiski AK local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price 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 aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Nikiski AK. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Nikiski AK, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Nikiski AK?
Nikiski is located at 60°42′28″N 151°15′46″W / 60.70778°N 151.26278°W / 60.70778; -151.26278 (60.707891, -151.262646) on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula. It lies along the shore of Cook Inlet between Salamatof to the south and the Swanson River to the northeast. It is bordered across the Swanson River by the Point Possession CDP.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Nikiski CDP has a total area of 75.9 square miles (196.7 km2), of which 69.4 square miles (179.8 km2) are land and 6.5 square miles (16.8 km2), or 8.57%, are water. The CDP is in a low-lying region covered by several lakes, including Stormy Lake, Suneva Lake, Daniels Lake, Timberlost Lake, Island Lake, Foreland Lake, Bernice Lake, and Cabin Lake.
Nikiski first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Tinneh villages of "Kultuk" (AKA Nikishka No. 3) and "Titukilsk and Nikishka". Kultuk had a population of 17, and Titukilsk and Nikishka had a population of 57, all of whom were Tinneh Natives. There apparently were no census reports from 1880 until 1980, when the area was organized as "Nikishka" and made a census-designated place (CDP). The name was altered to "Nikiski" in 1990 and has reported as such on each successive census.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,327 people, 1,514 households, and 1,130 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 62.2 people per square mile (24.0/km²). There were 1,766 housing units at an average density of 25.4/sq mi (9.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 87.15% White, 0.12% Black or African American, 7.56% Native American, 0.72% Asian, 0.51% Pacific Islander, 0.83% from other races, and 3.12% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Nikiski AK
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Nikiski residence. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Nikiski AK.
Other Cool Cities in Alaska