How to Select the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Dillingham Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dillingham AK and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Dillingham residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, 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 different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Dillingham AK lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Dillingham AK is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish 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 discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Dillingham AK area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Dillingham AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Dillingham AK law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Dillingham AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be beneficial to select a legal assistant school located in Alaska or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose 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 may need to initially investigate those schools that are within the Dillingham AK region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Dillingham AK. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Dillingham AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Dillingham AK?
If you live near Dillingham 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.
Dillingham /ˈdɪlɪŋhæm/ (Curyuk in Central Alaskan Yup'ik), also known as Curyung and (for the southwestern section) Kanakanak, is a city in Dillingham Census Area, Alaska, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 2,329, down from 2,466 in 2000.
Dillingham is on Nushagak Bay at the mouth of the Nushagak River, an inlet of Bristol Bay, an arm of the Bering Sea in the North Pacific, in southwestern Alaska. It is located at 59°02′48″N 158°30′31″W / 59.04667°N 158.50861°W / 59.04667; -158.50861 (59.046751, -158.508665).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.3 square miles (94.1 km2). 33.6 square miles (86.9 km2) of it is land, and 2.8 square miles (7.2 km2) of it (7.64%) is water. This may change as the City of Dillingham will likely petition the State of Alaska to increase the size of its boundaries to include most of Nushagak Bay and Wood River, to gain revenue from the Nushagak District and Wood River Special Harvest Area commercial salmon fisheries.
Online Paralegal Degree Programs Accredited Dillingham AK
Selecting the best paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 Online Paralegal Degree Programs Accredited. But as we have addressed 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 Dillingham home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Dillingham AK.
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