In Alaska and in other states throughout the United States, paralegals are regarded as important legal professionals, as they well should be. While these professionals do not provide legal services to the general public directly, they help those that do and make it possible for them to do their jobs. They are, in a sense, the people “behind the curtain.” They are the ones who pull the strings and make things happen in regards to the legal field. Just a few of their responsibilities include conducting interviews with clients, performing legal research, investigating the facts of a case that has been taken on by their employer, locating witnesses for court appearances, being a court participant, writing petitions, filing petitions, managing trial dockets, court correspondence, and so much more.
Obviously, in order to be able to correctly do all that, paralegals are going to need to have some kind of training in the field. The good news is that Alaska has lots of excellent schooling options for prospective paralegals. There are also options in terms of how you complete your training in the field. Some people, for example, will opt for a simple certificate, which can generally be completed in about a year and a half or a year in some cases. Others will earn an associate’s degree, which takes around two years to complete on average. In either case, the program should be approved by the American Bar Association in order to be legitimate.
The University of Alaska at Anchorage is one school that offers a certification program. Bear in mind, however, that for admittance to this program you need to already possess a bachelor’s degree, though it need not be in a related field. This program is an excellent fit for anyone wanting to enter the profession, but especially for those who think that, in the long term, they would like to move on to work in other areas of law. This allows a professional to work as a paralegal without having to complete a full blown degree, which is something many people will do on their own way to becoming lawyers or other professionals. Keep in mind, too, that this school is located in a busy, bustling area, which means there are many hiring professionals, law firms, and the like in the area. This makes your chances of getting hired after completing your program much higher, and it also gives you more opportunities for internships, job shadowing, and other experiential learning options.
Then, you have the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, which offers an associate’s degree in the field. This is another great school and one that will serve you well in reaching your career goals. While not in an area quite as dynamic as Anchorage, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks is still in a fairly busy city, so you can generally find work and internships, though it may take a little more work on your part in order to do so.
It is also important to note that, in this day and age, there are a wide variety of paralegal programs being offered online. Online schooling is a great option for anyone who cannot meet the demands of a more traditional education, due to work responsibilities, family responsibilities, or anything else. Online programs generally allow students to work at their own pace to complete assignments. Plus, they are often a lot more affordable than more traditional programs, making them perfect for the person on a budget. If you are considering online schooling, though, you have to research your options and make your choice carefully.
The reason for this is that there are a lot of scams in the online world. These scams include unaccredited, unapproved by the American Bar Association “schools” that exist merely to take your money. They might give you a worthless piece of paper in the end, but it will be just that—only accredited, approved schools can issue degrees in the field. So, make sure you take the time to carefully research any online school that you are thinking about attending. Don’t just take the school’s promises at face value; check them out yourself to avoid a costly mistake.