How to Select a Paralegal Program near Valdez Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Valdez AK and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Valdez homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be considered too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options 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 belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Valdez AK with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- 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 role of a Valdez AK paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Valdez AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once 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 practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Valdez AK.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for students in Valdez AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater 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 looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Valdez AK area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets 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 demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Valdez AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Valdez AK paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, 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 a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Valdez AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign 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 School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even 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 an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first investigate those schools that are within your Valdez AK local area.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Valdez AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Valdez AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Valdez AK?
Valdez (/vælˈdiːz, vəlˈdɛz/; Alutiiq: Suacit) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976, down from 4,036 in 2000. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered huge damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.
The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A scam to lure prospectors off the Klondike Gold Rush trail led to a town being developed there in 1898. Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better route for miners to reach the Klondike gold fields and discover new ones in the Copper River country of interior Alaska than that from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported, and many men died attempting the crossing, in part by contracting scurvy during the long cold winter without adequate supplies. The town did not flourish until after the construction of the Richardson Highway in 1899, which connected Valdez and Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska. The highway was open in summer-only until 1950, when it was operated as a year-round route.
In 1907, a shootout between two rival railroad companies ended Valdez's hope of becoming the railroad link from tidewater to the Kennicott Copper Mine. The mine, located in the heart of the Wrangell-St.Elias Mountains, was one of the richest copper ore deposits on the continent. The exact location of the right-of-way dispute, in which one man was killed and several injured, is located at the southern entrance of Keystone Canyon on the Valdez side. A half-completed tunnel in the canyon marks the end of railroad days in Valdez. A rail line to Kennicott was later established from the coastal city of Cordova.
The city of Valdez was badly shaken but not destroyed in the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Soil liquefaction of the glacial silt that formed the city's foundation led to a massive underwater landslide, which caused a section of the city's shoreline to break off and sink into the sea. The underwater soil displacement caused a local tsunami 30 feet (9.1 m) high that traveled westward, away from the city and down Valdez Bay. 32 men, women, and children were on the city's main freight dock to help with and watch the unloading of the SS Chena, a supply ship that came to Valdez regularly. All 32 people died as the dock collapsed into the ocean with the violent landslide. There were no deaths in the town.
Select the Right Paralegal Training near Valdez AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Valdez residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed 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 be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Valdez AK.
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