How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Wrangell Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wrangell AK and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within driving range of their Wrangell homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wrangell AK lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep 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 complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Wrangell AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Wrangell AK area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wrangell AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact some Wrangell AK law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Wrangell AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. 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 an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. 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 wish to first consider those schools that are within the Wrangell AK area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Wrangell AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Wrangell 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 enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wrangell AK?
If you live near Wrangell 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 City and Borough of Wrangell (Tlingit: Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw) is a borough in the Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 2,369, up from 2,308 in 2000. Incorporated as a Unified Home Rule Borough on May 30, 2008, Wrangell was previously a city in the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area (afterwards renamed the Petersburg Census Area (the Petersburg Borough was formed from part of this census area)). Its Tlingit name is Ḵaachx̱aana.áakʼw ("Ḵaachx̱ans Little Lake" with áa-kʼw 'lake-diminutive'). The Tlingit people residing in the Wrangell area, who were there centuries before Europeans, call themselves the Shtaxʼhéen Ḵwáan after the nearby Stikine River. Alternately they use the autonym Shxʼát Ḵwáan, where the meaning of shxʼát is unknown.
The central (urban) part of Wrangell is located at 56°28′15″N 132°22′36″W / 56.47083°N 132.37667°W / 56.47083; -132.37667, in the northwest corner of Wrangell Island, whereas the borough now encompasses the entire eastern half of the former Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area, in addition to the area around Meyers Chuck, which was formerly in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area. It also includes Thoms Place, a former census-designated place on Wrangell Island.
Tlingit people and their ancestors have inhabited this island for thousands of years. According to Naanyaa.aayí clan traditions, Tlingit people migrated down the Stikine River during a time when the river still flowed underneath glaciers. The population slowly moved down the river, settling in different locations such as Tlákw.aan "Ancient Village", Sʼiknáx̱ "Across from the Grass", Shaal.aan "Fish Trap Town", Xakw.aan "Sandbar Village", and Kayáash "Platform", Hehl (Xel/Xehl) "Foam People", Hehl being the senior of house of the village.
Bachelor Degree In Paralegal Studies Online Wrangell AK
Enrolling in the right legal assistant certificate program is a vital 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 Bachelor Degree In Paralegal Studies Online. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Wrangell residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Wrangell AK.
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