How to Choose a Paralegal Degree Program near Sitka Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Sitka AK and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, 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. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Sitka homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Sitka AK with a wide variety 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 practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Sitka AK paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals 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 attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 fastest means to begin your career in Sitka AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Sitka AK.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Sitka AK searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating Sitka AK area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial issues to think about as well, including accreditation and the reputation 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Sitka AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Sitka AK paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Sitka AK legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those colleges that are within your Sitka AK local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Sitka AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Sitka AK, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Sitka AK?
The City and Borough of Sitka (Tlingit: Sheetʼká), formerly Novo-Arkhangelsk, or New Archangel under Russian rule (Russian: Ново-Архангельск or Новоaрхангельск, t Novoarkhangelsk), is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean (part of the Alaska Panhandle), in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 8,881.
In terms of land area, it is the largest city-borough in the U.S., with a land area of 2,870.3 square miles (7,434 square kilometres) and a total area (including water area) of 4,811.4 square miles (12,461 square kilometres). Urban Sitka, the part usually thought of as the "city" of Sitka, is on the west side of Baranof Island.
The current name Sitka (derived from Sheet’ká, a contraction of the Tlingit Shee At'iká) means "People on the Outside of Baranof Island," whose Tlingit name is Sheet’-ká X'áat'l (here contracted to Shee).
The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Fort Saint Michael (Russian: форт Архангела Михаила, t Fort Arkhangela Mikhaila). The governor of Russian America, Alexander Baranov, arrived under the auspices of the Russian-American Company, a colonial trading company chartered by Tsar Paul I. In June 1802, Tlingit warriors destroyed the original settlement, killing many of the Russians, with only a few managing to escape.:37–39 Baranov was forced to levy 10,000 rubles in ransom for the safe return of the surviving settlers.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Program near Sitka AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Sitka residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you choose 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 program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Sitka AK.
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