How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Program near Elmendorf Afb Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Elmendorf Afb AK and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Elmendorf Afb residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold 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 belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Elmendorf Afb AK attorneys with a diverse array 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 practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Elmendorf Afb AK is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Elmendorf Afb AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Elmendorf Afb AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Elmendorf Afb AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Elmendorf Afb AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially consider those schools that are within the Elmendorf Afb AK area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Elmendorf Afb AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Elmendorf Afb AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Elmendorf Afb AK?
If you live near Elmendorf Afb 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.
Structure of the United States Armed Forces
The chain of command leads from the President (as commander-in-chief) through the Secretary of Defense down to the newest recruits. The United States armed forces are organized through the United States Department of Defense, which oversees a complex structure of joint command and control functions with many units reporting to various commanding officers. The following is an incomplete list of the various major military units, commands, and DOD offices and agencies, including civilian and military chains of command.
What Degree Do I Need To Be A Paralegal Elmendorf Afb AK
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is a crucial 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 What Degree Do I Need To Be A Paralegal. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Elmendorf Afb residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Elmendorf Afb AK.
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