How to Pick a Paralegal School near Seward Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Seward AK and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Seward homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Seward AK with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Seward AK paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Seward AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Seward AK.
Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good option for students in Seward AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover 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 sure that the program and school 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 formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing Seward AK area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant aspects to research also, including 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 investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Seward AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Seward AK paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Seward AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Seward AK local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Seward AK. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Seward AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Seward AK?
Seward (Alutiiq: Qutalleq) is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2016 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 2,787. The 2010 Census figure gave 2,693 residents, down from its highest population in 2000 of 2,830. It was named after William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. In 1867, he fought for the U.S. purchase of Alaska which he finally negotiated to acquire from Russia.
In 1793 Alexander Baranov of the Shelikhov-Golikov company (precursor of the Russian-American Company) established a fur trade post on Resurrection Bay where Seward is today, and had a three-masted vessel, the Phoenix, built at the post by James Shields, an English shipwright in Russian service.
The 1939 Slattery Report on Alaskan development identified the region as one of the areas where new settlements would be established through Jewish immigration. This plan was never implemented.
Seward was an important port for the military buildup in Alaska during World War II. Fort Raymond was established in Seward along the Resurrection River to protect the community. An Army airfield built in Seward during the war later became Walseth Air Force Base. Both of the military facilities were closed shortly after the end of the war.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Seward AK
Selecting the best paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Seward home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and 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 career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Seward AK.
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