How to Find a Paralegal Program near Petersburg Alaska
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Petersburg AK and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Petersburg homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program should be considered as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, 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 roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Petersburg AK with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities can involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Petersburg AK paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 start your career in Petersburg AK as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Alaska to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Petersburg AK.
Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals in Petersburg AK looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Petersburg AK area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to 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 the majority of 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 issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Petersburg AK law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Petersburg AK paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Petersburg AK legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance 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 substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within your Petersburg AK local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Petersburg AK. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Petersburg AK, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Petersburg AK?
Petersburg (Tlingit: Gantiyaakw Séedi "Steamboat Channel") is a census-designated place (CDP) in Petersburg Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 2,824 according to 2009 Census Bureau estimates.
The borough encompasses Petersburg and Kupreanof, plus mostly uninhabited areas stretching to the Canadian–American border and the southern boundary of the City and Borough of Juneau. While the city of Petersburg ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity (the borough assembly created a service area to assume operation of the former city's services), the tiny city of Kupreanof remains separate within the borough.
Tlingits from Kupreanof Island had long used a summer fish camp at the north end of Mitkof Island. Earlier cultures of indigenous people also used the island: remnants of fish traps and some petroglyphs have been carbon-dated back some 1,000 years.
European explorers to Mitkof Island encountered the Tlingit. In the nineteenth century, Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant, settled here, building a cannery, sawmill, docks and early structures. The settlement was named Petersburg after him, and it flourished as a fishing port. (Icebergs from the nearby LeConte Glacier provided a source for cooling fish). Petersburg originally incorporated as a town on April 2, 1910. The town had attracted mostly immigrants of Scandinavian origin, thus giving Petersburg the nickname "Little Norway". The Sons of Norway hall was built on one of the piers. Three other canneries were built and the four have operated continuously since. With the establishment of the cannery, Alaskan Natives, including Chief John Lott, began to work there and live year-round at the site.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Program near Petersburg AK
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Petersburg home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Different types of public and private 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 profound influence 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 be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Petersburg AK.
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