How to Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Cordova Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Cordova AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Cordova residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. 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 essentially both fill comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Cordova AK lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized 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 duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really 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 handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Cordova AK is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish 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, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Cordova AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized 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 learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Cordova AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent 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 call some Cordova AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Cordova AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ from state to state, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through 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, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those colleges that are within the Cordova AK region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, 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 assistance might be available to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Cordova AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Cordova AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, 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 sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Cordova AK?
If you live near Cordova Alaska or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Cordova (/kɔːrˈdoʊvə, ˈkɔːrdəvə/) is a small town located near the mouth of the Copper River in the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, Alaska, United States, at the head of Orca Inlet on the east side of Prince William Sound. The population was 2,239 at the 2010 census, down from 2,454 in 2000. Cordova was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo in 1790. No roads connect Cordova to other Alaskan towns, so a plane or ferry is required to travel there. In the Exxon Valdez oil spill of March 1989, an oil tanker ran aground northwest of Cordova, heavily damaging ecology and fishing. It was cleaned up shortly after, but there are lingering effects, such as a lowered population of some birds.
In 1790 the inlet in front of the current Cordova townsite was named Puerto Cordova by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo, after Spanish admiral Luis de Córdova y Córdova. The town of Cordova was named after it, although the inlet itself was later renamed the Orca Inlet. Cordova proper was founded as a result of the discovery of high-grade copper ore at Kennecott, north of Cordova. A group of surveyors from Valdez laid out a town site and Michael James Heney purchased half the land for the terminus of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway after determining that the neighboring town of Katalla was a poor harbor. Heney and his crew held a brief ceremony to organize the town on March 26, 1906. A week later crews arrived to begin work on the railroad. The first lots in the new town site, which make up the heart of present-day Cordova, were sold at auction in May 1908. As the railroad grew, so did the town. Eventually schools, businesses, a hospital, and utilities were established. After the railroad was completed Cordova became the transportation hub for the ore coming out of Kennecott. In the years 1911 to 1938, more than 200 million tons of copper ore was transported through Cordova.
The area around Cordova was historically home to the Eyak, with a population of Chugach to the west, and occasional visits from Ahtna and Tlingit people for trade or battle. The last full-blooded Eyak Marie Smith Jones died in 2008, but the native traditions and lifestyle still has an influence on the local culture. Cordova was also once the home of a booming razor clam industry, and between 1916 and the late 1950s it was known as the "Razor Clam Capital of the World". Commercial harvest in the area was as much as 3.5 million pounds. Returns began declining in the late 1950s, presumably due to overharvesting and a large die-off in 1958. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake effectively and completely obliterated the industry; in some areas, the ground was thrust up by as much as six feet, exposing the already depleted clam beds. There has been no commercial harvest in the area since 1988 with the exception of a brief harvest in 1993.
How To Become Legal Assistant Cordova AK
Enrolling in the best paralegal training school is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about How To Become Legal Assistant. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Cordova home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cordova AK.
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