How to Choose a Paralegal College near Gustavus Alaska
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Gustavus AK and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Gustavus residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Gustavus AK with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but some of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Gustavus AK paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly 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 in Gustavus AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Gustavus AK.
Online Paralegal Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for those in Gustavus AK searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials 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 ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Gustavus AK area schools. But because there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research also, including 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 considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Gustavus AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Gustavus AK paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Gustavus AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide 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 most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alaska legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Gustavus AK local area.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Gustavus AK. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Gustavus 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 makes available that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Gustavus AK?
Gustavus, formerly known as "Strawberry Point", lies on the outwash plain created by the glaciers that once filled Glacier Bay. Two hundred years ago, it was primarily a single large "beach". The native Tlingit people and others used the area for fishing, berry picking, and other similar uses. The town itself is less than one hundred years old. The first settlers arrived in 1914, but left shortly afterward. The first permanent homestead was established in 1917, when Abraham Lincoln Parker moved his family to Strawberry Point. Many Gustavus residents are descendants and relatives of the original Parker homesteaders.
In 1925 the name became "Gustavus", when the U.S. Post Office required a change for its new post office, although locals continued calling it "Strawberry Point" long afterwards. The new name came from Point Gustavus at the mouth of Glacier Bay.
In 1793 George Vancouver named Point Adolphus (at the northern tip of Chichagof Island, and today a well-known humpback whale feeding area) after Adolphus Frederick, seventh son of King George III. In 1878, W.H. Dall, while working on a coastal survey, saw "Adolphus" on the map and assumed it was for Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. The point across Icy Strait from Point Adolphus at the mouth of Glacier Bay was not named on the map, so Dall called it "Gustavus". Another possibility is that Dall named Gustavus for Gustavus C. Hanus, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who had extensive experience throughout southeast Alaska, and both Dall and Hanus served with the Coast Survey in Alaska. Hanus laid out the first streets in Juneau and helped quell the trouble in Klukwan in 1881.
There is still a large beach at Gustavus, with many strawberries. The city is surrounded on three sides by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and on the fourth side by water. The area is a temperate rain forest; spruce and hemlock trees reach heights of 60 metres (200 ft), and alders, balsam poplar, fern, mosses, fireweed, lupine, and other plants are also common. Gustavus's coastal location gives it a relatively mild winter. Summer temperatures range from 11 to 17 °C (52 to 63 °F); winter temperatures from −3 to 4 °C (27 to 39 °F).
Find the Best Paralegal School near Gustavus AK
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Gustavus residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Gustavus AK.
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