How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Glennallen Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Glennallen AK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within commuting distance of their Glennallen homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, 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.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Glennallen AK lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard 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 might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted 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 applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because 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 Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably 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 as a paralegal in Glennallen AK is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Glennallen AK area, as well as 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 the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected organization 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Glennallen AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 call several Glennallen AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Glennallen AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Glennallen AK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Glennallen AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Glennallen AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Glennallen AK?
If you live near Glennallen 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.
Glennallen /ɡlɛˈnælən/ (Ciisik’e Na’ in Ahtna) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Valdez–Cordova Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 483, down from 554 in 2000.
Glennallen is located at 62°06′33″N 145°32′47″W / 62.10917°N 145.54639°W / 62.10917; -145.54639 (62.109170, -145.54639; Sec. 23, T004N, R002W, Copper River Meridian), in the Chitina Recording District and Game Management Unit 13.
It lies along the Glenn Highway at its junction with the Richardson Highway, 189 road miles (304 km) east of Anchorage. It is just outside the western boundary of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Choose the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Glennallen AK
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is an essential 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 privacy and comfort of your Glennallen residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Glennallen AK.
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