How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Delta Junction Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Delta Junction AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Delta Junction residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Delta Junction AK lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
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 opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Delta Junction AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Delta Junction AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Delta Junction AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Delta Junction AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Delta Junction AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Delta Junction AK region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Delta Junction AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Delta Junction 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. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Delta Junction AK?
If you live near Delta Junction AK or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Delta Junction, Alaska
Delta Junction is a city in the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 958, up from 840 in 2000. The 2016 estimate was down to 934. The city is located a short distance south of the confluence of the Delta River with the Tanana River, which is at Big Delta. It is about 160 km (99 mi) south of Fairbanks. Native inhabitants are Tanana Athabaskans.
The early history of non-native settlement in the area occurred at the river crossing at Big Delta and is found at the entry, Big Delta, Alaska. In 1904, the town first served as a telegraph station. In 1928 a herd of 23 bison were brought from the National Bison Range in Montana to an area south of Big Delta to provide an additional game species for hunters. Buffalo Center, a small community near the center of present-day Delta Junction, was named because of their presence, especially during the winter months. The huge animals were troublesome, and sometimes made landings dangerous at nearby Allen Army Airfield.
The herd is now kept at several hundred animals by the annual issuance of hunting permits. In the early 1980s, the 90,000-acre (360 km2) Delta Junction Bison Range, south of the Alaska Highway and between Ft. Greely and the Little Gerstle River was established; the range is now managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to provide fall habitat for bison to reduce farm depredations and to provide habitat for other wildlife.
Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Program near Delta Junction AK
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Delta Junction residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Delta Junction AK.
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