How to Select the Right Legal Assistant Program near Nikiski Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Nikiski AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Nikiski residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Nikiski AK lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically 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 means to launch your career as a paralegal in Nikiski 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 provide a more extensive education and may be earned 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. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Nikiski AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial issues to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Nikiski AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Nikiski AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin establishing contacts within the Nikiski AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs 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 large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within the Nikiski AK region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Nikiski AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Nikiski AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Nikiski AK?
If you live near Nikiski 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.
Nikiski is located at 60°42′28″N 151°15′46″W / 60.70778°N 151.26278°W / 60.70778; -151.26278 (60.707891, -151.262646) on the west side of the Kenai Peninsula. It lies along the shore of Cook Inlet between Salamatof to the south and the Swanson River to the northeast. It is bordered across the Swanson River by the Point Possession CDP.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Nikiski CDP has a total area of 75.9 square miles (196.7 km2), of which 69.4 square miles (179.8 km2) are land and 6.5 square miles (16.8 km2), or 8.57%, are water. The CDP is in a low-lying region covered by several lakes, including Stormy Lake, Suneva Lake, Daniels Lake, Timberlost Lake, Island Lake, Foreland Lake, Bernice Lake, and Cabin Lake.
Nikiski first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as the unincorporated Tinneh villages of "Kultuk" (AKA Nikishka No. 3) and "Titukilsk and Nikishka". Kultuk had a population of 17, and Titukilsk and Nikishka had a population of 57, all of whom were Tinneh Natives. There apparently were no census reports from 1880 until 1980, when the area was organized as "Nikishka" and made a census-designated place (CDP). The name was altered to "Nikiski" in 1990 and has reported as such on each successive census.
4 Year Paralegal Degree Nikiski AK
Choosing the right paralegal degree school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about 4 Year Paralegal Degree. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Nikiski home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available 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 pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Nikiski AK.
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