The associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree in paralegal studies is approved by the American Bar Association and prepares you to enter the legal profession as a qualified paralegal. Paralegals are in high demand in private law offices, within local, state and federal agencies, and within legal departments of large corporations.
The paralegal studies program trains students for employment as paralegals to assist in the delivery of legal services under the supervision of a practicing lawyer, and provides continuing education and upgrading of skills for paralegals already employed. In addition, the program offers practical law-related topics for UAF students whose main focus is in other areas of study such as political science and justice.
Paralegals and legal assistants are not authorized to provide direct legal services to the public. However, they are qualified to perform rudimentary legal research and produce drafts of letters, office memoranda, pleadings, contracts, wills and similar documents. Paralegals conduct client and witness interviews, engage in basic fact-finding and investigation, and assist in trial preparation and discovery. At all times they remain cognizant of the ethical responsibilities owed by the supervising lawyer to clients, other lawyers and the court system.
The UAF paralegal studies program does not train lawyers or legal administrators. The associate (A.A.S.) degree is approved by the American Bar Association. The minor is not designed to prepare students to work as paralegals and is not approved by the American Bar Association.
Research indicates that employment as a paralegal is one of the fastest growing careers in our nation today. Employment opportunities exist both in Alaska and nationwide in private law offices, large and small; in a myriad of government offices and agencies, local, state and federal; and with corporations that retain in-house legal departments.
The paralegal program coordinator, faculty and advisory committee actively assist graduates in securing employment in Fairbanks law and related offices. Many Fairbanks law offices look to the paralegal studies program to provide support staff positions. Those who seek employment in other geographic locations will find the programs approval by the American Bar Association a valuable asset.
Salary levels vary depending on each graduates unique background and skills, but average $15.00 to $18.00 an hour for entry level positions with minimum prior experience. Graduates who already have experience working in a law or law-related field can earn $20.00 an hour following graduation. Those willing to work in smaller rural communities can earn a significantly higher salary. Many employment opportunities offer customary fringe benefit packages in addition to salary.
Note: Graduates are not authorized to provide direct legal services to the public. The paralegal studies program provides training for paralegals/legal assistants who are authorized to perform substantive legal work under the supervision of a lawyer. The program does not train lawyers or legal administrators.
Deana Waters, Program Coordinator
604 Barnette Street
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
telephone: (907) 455-2835
fax: (907) 455-2912