How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Sitka Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Sitka AK and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Sitka residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Sitka AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since 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 Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Sitka AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Sitka AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Sitka AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal 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 caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, 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 contact a few Sitka AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Sitka AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly 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 getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those schools that are within the Sitka AK area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Sitka AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Sitka AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose makes available that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Sitka AK?
If you live near Sitka 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.
The City and Borough of Sitka (Tlingit: Sheetʼká), formerly Novo-Arkhangelsk, or New Archangel under Russian rule (Russian: Ново-Архангельск or Новоaрхангельск, t Novoarkhangelsk), is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean (part of the Alaska Panhandle), in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 8,881.
In terms of land area, it is the largest city-borough in the U.S., with a land area of 2,870.3 square miles (7,434 square kilometres) and a total area (including water area) of 4,811.4 square miles (12,461 square kilometres). Urban Sitka, the part usually thought of as the "city" of Sitka, is on the west side of Baranof Island.
The current name Sitka (derived from Sheet’ká, a contraction of the Tlingit Shee At'iká) means "People on the Outside of Baranof Island," whose Tlingit name is Sheet’-ká X'áat'l (here contracted to Shee).
BA In Legal Studies Sitka AK
Enrolling in the right legal assistant certificate program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about BA In Legal Studies. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Sitka home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Sitka AK.
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