How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Training Program near Skagway Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Skagway AK and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Skagway homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only 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 legal assistants and paralegals assist Skagway AK attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers 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 other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Skagway AK is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Skagway AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important issues to research as well, including 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 investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Skagway AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Skagway AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Skagway AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within the Skagway AK region.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Skagway AK. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Skagway AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Skagway AK?
If you live near Skagway 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.
The Municipality and Borough of Skagway is a first-class borough in Alaska on the Alaska Panhandle. As of the 2010 census, the population was 968. Estimates put the 2018 population at 1,148 people. The population doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 1,000,000 visitors each year. Incorporated as a borough on June 25, 2007, it was previously a city (urban Skagway located at 59°27′30″N 135°18′50″W / 59.45833°N 135.31389°W / 59.45833; -135.31389) in the Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Census Area (now the Hoonah–Angoon Census Area, Alaska).
The port of Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, and the tourist trade is a big part of the business of Skagway. The White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad, part of the area's mining past is now in operation purely for the tourist trade and runs throughout the summer months. Skagway is also part of the setting for Jack London's book The Call of the Wild, Will Hobbs's book Jason's Gold, and for Joe Haldeman's novel, Guardian. The John Wayne film North to Alaska (1960) was filmed nearby.
The name Skagway is derived from shԍagéi, a Tlingit idiom which figuratively refers to rough seas in the Taiya Inlet, which are caused by strong north winds. (See, "Etymology and the Mythical Stone Woman", below.)
How To Get A Certificate In Paralegal Studies Skagway AK
Selecting the right paralegal degree school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about How To Get A Certificate In Paralegal Studies. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Skagway residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Skagway AK.
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