How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Ketchikan Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ketchikan AK and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Ketchikan homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be considered too. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options 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 positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Ketchikan AK with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific 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 files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Ketchikan AK paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Ketchikan AK as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Ketchikan AK.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals in Ketchikan AK searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Ketchikan AK area schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Ketchikan AK law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Ketchikan AK paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could 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 legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Ketchikan AK legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent 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 Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Ketchikan AK local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Ketchikan AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Ketchikan AK, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Ketchikan AK?
Ketchikan (/ˈkɛtʃɪkæn/ KETCH-ih-kan;Tlingit: Kichx̱áan) is a city in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States, the southeasternmost city in Alaska. With a population at the 2010 census of 8,050, it is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and tenth-most populous community when census-designated places are included. The surrounding borough, encompassing suburbs both north and south of the city along the Tongass Highway (most of which are commonly regarded as a part of Ketchikan, albeit not a part of the city itself), plus small rural settlements accessible mostly by water, registered a population of 13,477 in that same census. Estimates put the 2017 population at 13,754 people. Incorporated on August 25, 1900, Ketchikan is the earliest extant incorporated city in Alaska, because consolidation or unification elsewhere in Alaska resulted in dissolution of those communities' city governments. Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, so named in 1793 by Captain George Vancouver.
Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown. "Ketchikan" comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, the meaning of which is unclear. It may mean "the river belonging to Kitschk"; other accounts claim it means "Thundering Wings of an Eagle". In modern Tlingit this name is rendered as Kichx̱áan.
Ketchikan Creek served as a summer fish camp for Tlingit natives for untold years before the town was established by Mike Martin in 1885. He was sent to the area by an Oregon canning company to assess prospects. He established the saltery Clark & Martin and a general store with Nova Scotia native George Clark who had been foreman at a cannery that burned down.
Ketchikan has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center. Most of the totems at Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park are recarvings of older poles, a practice that began during the Roosevelt Administration through the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Totem Heritage Center displays preserved 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan.
Select the Best Paralegal Training near Ketchikan AK
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Ketchikan residence. Paralegal academic 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 trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Ketchikan AK.
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