How to Choose the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Wasilla Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wasilla AK and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 a growing number of educational options 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 range of their Wasilla homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles 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 Wasilla AK lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos 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, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically 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 start your career as a paralegal in Wasilla AK is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea about 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 junior and community colleges in the Wasilla AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify 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. Numerous Wasilla AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select 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 quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Wasilla AK law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Keep 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 Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Wasilla AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first investigate those colleges that are within the Wasilla AK area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help offset part of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Wasilla AK. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Wasilla AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be a good option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wasilla AK?
If you live near Wasilla 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.
Wasilla is a city in Matanuska-Susitna Borough, United States and the sixth-largest city in Alaska. It is located on the northern point of Cook Inlet in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of the southcentral part of the state. The city's population was 7,831 at the 2010 census, up from 5,469 in 2000. Estimates in 2016 put the population at roughly 9,748. Wasilla is the largest city in the borough and a part of the Anchorage metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 396,142 in 2013.
Established at the intersection of the Alaska Railroad and Old Carle Wagon Road, the city prospered at the expense of the nearby mining town of Knik. Historically entrepreneurial, the economic base shifted in the 1970s from small-scale agriculture and recreation to support for workers employed in Anchorage or on Alaska's North Slope oilfields and related infrastructure. The George Parks Highway turned the town into a commuter suburb of Anchorage. Several state and federal agencies have offices in Wasilla, including the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Divisions of Public Assistance, Social Services.
Wasilla gained international attention when Sarah Palin, who served as Mayor of Wasilla before her election as Governor of Alaska, was chosen by John McCain as his running mate for Vice President of the United States in the 2008 United States presidential election.
Associate Degree Paralegal Wasilla AK
Selecting the best legal assistant degree school is an essential 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 Associate Degree Paralegal. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wasilla residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community 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. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wasilla AK.
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