How to Choose a Paralegal School near Craig Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Craig AK and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive 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 a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling distance of their Craig residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Alaska Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Craig AK lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for Craig AK 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 on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at many Craig AK area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Craig AK area program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent in Craig AK and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance 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 may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at Craig AK area junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial aspects to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized 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 distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Craig AK law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Alaska paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since Craig AK employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other Craig AK legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Craig AK legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in Alaska or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area Craig AK legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Craig AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Craig 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 choose offers that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Select the Best Legal Assistant Degree Program near Craig AK
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Craig residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Craig AK.
More About Craig Alaska
Craig (Tlingit: Sháan Séet) is a first-class city in the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area in the Unorganized BoroughA[›] in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 1,201 at the 2010 census, down from 1,397 in 2000.
Craig is the largest town on Prince of Wales Island, the fourth largest island in the USA. Craig is approximately 56 miles (90 km) by air northwest of Ketchikan and 220 miles (350 km) south of Juneau.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24.3 km2), of which, 6.7 square miles (17.4 km2) of it is land and 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2) of it (28.94%) is water.
Craig was named after Craig Miller (also spelled Millar) who established a fish saltery on nearby Fish Egg Island in 1907 with the assistance of the local Haida natives who moved onto Prince of Wales Island, being driven from Haida Gwaii (British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands) starting in the 18th century. Craig Miller constructed a cold storage plant and packing company at the present site of Craig, and in 1922 was instrumental in the incorporation of the city (originally as an Alaska second-class city within the Alaska Territory, pre-statehood).
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