How to Enroll in the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Valdez Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Valdez AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Valdez homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Valdez AK attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite 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 administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand 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 cases or clients than they could otherwise.
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. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Valdez AK is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can 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 offered also. When you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Valdez AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation 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 selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Valdez AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Valdez AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Valdez AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Valdez AK region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Valdez AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Valdez AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and can be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Valdez AK?
If you live near Valdez 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.
Valdez (/vælˈdiːz, vəlˈdɛz/; Alutiiq: Suacit) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the city is 3,976, down from 4,036 in 2000. The city was named in 1790 after the Spanish Navy Minister Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A former Gold Rush town, it is located at the head of a fjord on the eastern side of Prince William Sound. The port did not flourish until after the road link to Fairbanks was constructed in 1899. It suffered catastrophic damage during the 1964 Alaska earthquake, and is located near the site of the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. Today it is one of the most important ports in Alaska, a commercial fishing port as well as a freight terminal.
The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán. A scam to lure prospectors off the Klondike Gold Rush trail led to a town being developed there in 1898. Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better route for miners to reach the Klondike gold fields and discover new ones in the Copper River country of interior Alaska than that from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported, and many men died attempting the crossing, in part by contracting scurvy during the long cold winter without adequate supplies. The town did not flourish until after the construction of the Richardson Highway in 1899, which connected Valdez and Fairbanks. With a new road and its ice-free port, Valdez became permanently established as the first overland supply route into the interior of Alaska. The highway was open in summer-only until 1950, when it was operated as a year-round route.
In 1907, a shootout between two rival railroad companies ended Valdez's hope of becoming the railroad link from tidewater to the Kennicott Copper Mine. The mine, located in the heart of the Wrangell-St.Elias Mountains, was one of the richest copper ore deposits on the continent. The exact location of the right-of-way dispute, in which one man was killed and several injured, is located at the southern entrance of Keystone Canyon on the Valdez side. A half-completed tunnel in the canyon marks the end of railroad days in Valdez. A rail line to Kennicott was later established from the coastal city of Cordova.
Legal Assistant Course Valdez AK
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is an essential 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 Legal Assistant Course. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Valdez home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Valdez AK.
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