How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant Certificate Program near Seward Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Seward AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need 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 alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Seward residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Seward AK attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals 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 attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Seward AK is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded 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 obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Seward AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. 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 also. Many Seward AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Seward AK law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Seward AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering 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 profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those colleges that are within the Seward AK region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Seward AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Seward AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing 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 supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Seward AK?
If you live near Seward 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.
Seward (Alutiiq: Qutalleq) is an incorporated home rule city in Alaska, United States. Located on Resurrection Bay, a fjord of the Gulf of Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula, Seward is situated on Alaska's southern coast, approximately 120 miles by road from Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, and nearly 1,300 miles from the closest point in the contiguous United States at Cape Flattery, Washington.
With an estimated permanent population of 2,831 people as of 2017, Seward is the fourth-largest city in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, behind Kenai, Homer, and the borough seat of Soldotna. The city is named for former U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward, who orchestrated the United States' purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867 while serving in this position as part of President Andrew Johnson's administration.
Seward is the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad and the historic starting point of the original Iditarod Trail to the Alaskan interior, with Mile 0 of the trail marked on the shoreline at the southern end of town.
Legal Studies Programs Seward AK
Enrolling in the best paralegal certificate 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 Legal Studies Programs. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Seward residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program 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 wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Seward AK.
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