How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Metlakatla Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Metlakatla AK and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive 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 increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Metlakatla residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Metlakatla AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare 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 complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Metlakatla AK is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Metlakatla AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential 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 crucial aspects to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Metlakatla AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 call several Metlakatla AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Metlakatla AK legal field. Ask 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 Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Metlakatla AK area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Metlakatla AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Metlakatla AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Metlakatla AK?
If you live near Metlakatla 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.
Metlakatla /ˌmɛtləˈkætlə/ (Tsimshian: Maaxłakxaała "Saltwater pass") is a census-designated place (CDP) on Annette Island in Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 1,375; this had grown to 1,405 by the 2010 census.
Since the late 19th century, it has been the major settlement of the Metlakatla Indian Community of the federally recognized Annette Islands Reserve, the only reserve in Alaska and U.S. The Metlakatla voted to opt out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of the 1970s and retained rights to their land and waters. Membership in the community is primarily by lineage; it consists primarily of Tsimshian people and also includes those from other Alaskan Native tribes who wish to join the Metlakatla Indian Community as a bona fide member. Bona fide membership is granted upon approval of the Metlakatla Tribal Council and Executives.
Metlakatla comes from Maxłakxaała, a Tsimshian word meaning "Salt Water Passage." Metlakatla was named after another village of the same name ("Old Metlakatla") in British Columbia, which is on Metlakatla Pass, near Prince Rupert. In a more ancient time, it was a Tlingit hunting ground known as Taquan. The Tsimshian were granted permission to own the land by Chief Johnson of the Tlingit tribe.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Metlakatla AK
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Metlakatla residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Various types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including 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 profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Metlakatla AK.
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