How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Bethel Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Bethel AK and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for schools within traveling range of their Bethel homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Bethel AK lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Bethel AK is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Bethel AK area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate 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 critical issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Bethel AK law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Bethel AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Bethel AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Bethel AK area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Bethel AK. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Bethel AK, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be an excellent alternative for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain 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 attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Bethel AK?
If you live near Bethel 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.
Bethel (Mamterilleq in Central Alaskan Yup'ik) is the largest community on the Kuskokwim River, located approximately 50 mi (80 km) upriver from where the river flows into Kuskokwim Bay. Bethel is the largest community in western Alaska and in the Unorganized Borough, as well as the 9th largest in the state, with a population of 6,080 as of the 2010 Census. Bethel is home to the lone detention center in southwestern Alaska, the Yukon Kuskokwim Correction Center.
Southwestern Alaska was the traditional place of Yup'ik people and their ancestors for thousands of years. They called their village Mamterillermiut, meaning "Smokehouse People", after their nearby fish smokehouse. It was an Alaska Commercial Company trading post during the late 19th century, and had a population of 41 people in the 1880 U.S. Census.
In 1885, the Moravian Church established a mission in the area under the leadership of Rev. William Weinland and Caroline (born Yost)  and John Henry Kilbuck, Jr., a Lenape, and his wife Edith, a daughter and granddaughter of Moravian missionaries in Kansas. They both learned Yup'ik, which greatly enhanced their effectiveness as missionaries. He made Yup'ik the language of the Moravian Church in the community and region, and helped translate scripture into the people's language. The missionaries moved Bethel from Mamterillermiut to its present location on the west side of the Kuskokwim River. A United States post office was opened in 1905.
Online Masters Degree Legal Studies Bethel AK
Choosing the best paralegal certificate school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Masters Degree Legal Studies. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Bethel home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Bethel AK.
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