How to Pick a Paralegal Certificate Program near Healy Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Healy AK and start your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Healy homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, just 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 Healy AK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to 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 firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited 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 ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Healy AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning 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 Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Healy AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential 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 important factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation 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 properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Healy AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Healy 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 among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Healy AK legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Healy AK area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, 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 aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Healy AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Healy AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you choose offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Healy AK?
If you live near Healy 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.
Healy is located at 63°58′15″N 149°7′37″W / 63.97083°N 149.12694°W / 63.97083; -149.12694 (63.970833, -149.126944). The George Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3) runs through the community, leading south 18 miles (29 km) to Denali Park and north 56 miles (90 km) to Nenana.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Healy CDP has a total area of 687.2 square miles (1,779.8 km2), of which 687.0 square miles (1,779.2 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.5 km2), or 0.03%, is water. By area, it is the second-largest CDP in the United States, exceeded by only Willow, Alaska.
As is typical of the Alaska Interior, Healy experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with very long, bitterly cold winters and short, warm summers, and straddles the border between USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 2 and 3, indicating the coldest temperature of the year is typically around −40 °F (−40 °C). Average temperatures are below freezing from early October to mid-April, though occasionally chinook winds will push temperatures up to 45 °F (7.2 °C) even in the depths of winter.
Enroll in the Best Legal Assistant Program near Healy AK
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Healy home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Healy AK.
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