How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Gustavus Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Gustavus AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Gustavus residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Gustavus AK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files 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 degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Gustavus AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Gustavus AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential 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 significant issues to consider as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Gustavus AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. 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 training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, 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 some Gustavus AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Gustavus AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help 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 support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those colleges that are within the Gustavus AK area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. 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 also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Gustavus AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Gustavus AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Schools
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more available and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary 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 discuss 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 school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded 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 could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Gustavus AK?
If you live near Gustavus 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.
Gustavus, formerly known as "Strawberry Point", lies on the outwash plain created by the glaciers that once filled Glacier Bay. Two hundred years ago, it was primarily a single large "beach". The native Tlingit people and others used the area for fishing, berry picking, and other similar uses. The town itself is less than one hundred years old. The first settlers arrived in 1914, but left shortly afterward. The first permanent homestead was established in 1917, when Abraham Lincoln Parker moved his family to Strawberry Point. Many Gustavus residents are descendants and relatives of the original Parker homesteaders.
In 1925 the name became "Gustavus", when the U.S. Post Office required a change for its new post office, although locals continued calling it "Strawberry Point" long afterwards. The new name came from Point Gustavus at the mouth of Glacier Bay.
In 1793 George Vancouver named Point Adolphus (at the northern tip of Chichagof Island, and today a well-known humpback whale feeding area) after Adolphus Frederick, seventh son of King George III. In 1878, W.H. Dall, while working on a coastal survey, saw "Adolphus" on the map and assumed it was for Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. The point across Icy Strait from Point Adolphus at the mouth of Glacier Bay was not named on the map, so Dall called it "Gustavus". Another possibility is that Dall named Gustavus for Gustavus C. Hanus, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who had extensive experience throughout southeast Alaska, and both Dall and Hanus served with the Coast Survey in Alaska. Hanus laid out the first streets in Juneau and helped quell the trouble in Klukwan in 1881.
Paralegal Online Associates Degree Gustavus AK
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an important 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 Paralegal Online Associates Degree. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Gustavus home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Gustavus AK.
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