How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Program near Kenai Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kenai AK and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Kenai homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job positions and functions, just 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 category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Kenai AK attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including 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 practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs 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 educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Kenai AK is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the field 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Kenai AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can 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 looking 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, such as 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 effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Kenai AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Kenai AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Kenai AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose 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 want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Kenai AK region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Kenai AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Kenai AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Kenai AK?
If you live near Kenai 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.
Kenai (/ˈkiːnaɪ/, KEY-nigh) (Dena'ina: Shk'ituk't) is a city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 7,100 as of the 2010 census, up from 6,942 in 2000.
The city of Kenai is named after the local Dena'ina (Tanaina) word 'ken' or 'kena', which means 'flat, meadow, open area with few trees; base, low ridge', according to the Dena'ina Topical Dictionary by James Kari, Ph.D., published in 2007. This describes the area along the mouth and portion of the Kenai River near the City of Kenai. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area was first occupied by the Kachemak people from 1000 B.C., until they were displaced by the Dena'ina Athabaskan people around 1000 A.D. Before the arrival of the Russians, Kenai was a Dena'ina village called Shk'ituk't, meaning "where we slide down." When Russian fur traders first arrived in 1741, about 1,000 Dena'ina lived in the village. The traders called the people "Kenaitze", which is a Russian term for "people of the flats", or "Kenai people". This name was later adopted when they were incorporated as the Kenaitze Indian Tribe in the early 1970s.
In 1786 Pytor Zaikov built Fort Nikolaevskaia for the Lebedev-Lastochkin Company on the site of modern Kenai, being the first European settlement on the Alaskan mainland. Hostilities surfaced between the natives and settlers in 1797, culminating in an incident in which the Dena'ina attacked Fort St. Nicholas, later dubbed the battle of Kenai. Over one hundred deaths occurred from all involved parties. Later, in 1838, the introduction of smallpox killed one half of the Dena'ina population.
Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies Online Kenai AK
Selecting the best paralegal degree school is an important 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 Associates Degree In Paralegal Studies Online. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kenai home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kenai AK.
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