How to Find the Best Paralegal Course Near Eagle River Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Eagle River AK and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it's crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Eagle River residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let's have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Eagle River 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 duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal's work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer's. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants 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 handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Eagle River AK is by obtaining a certificate, which can require just six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate's Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor's Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Certificates and Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for those searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to Eagle River AK students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Degree or Certificate Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Eagle River AK area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation 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 thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Eagle River AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited programs.
What's the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Eagle River AK law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Eagle River AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Alaska or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those colleges that are within the Eagle River AK area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don't forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be accessible to help minimize some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school's financial aid office to find out what is available in Eagle River AK. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Eagle River AK, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family obligations.
Enroll in the Best Eagle River Paralegal Certificate or Degree Program
Choosing the right legal assistant training school is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Eagle River residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter 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 right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Eagle River Alaska.