How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Arkadelphia Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Arkadelphia AR and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Arkadelphia homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Arkadelphia AR with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Arkadelphia AR paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually 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 way to launch your career in Arkadelphia AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few 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 school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Arkadelphia AR.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more available and can be a good alternative for students in Arkadelphia AR searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Arkadelphia AR area schools. But because there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many 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 critical aspects to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Arkadelphia AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Arkadelphia AR paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law firms that you may be interested 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 rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Arkadelphia AR legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those schools that are within your Arkadelphia AR local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. 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 aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Arkadelphia AR. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Arkadelphia AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Arkadelphia AR?
Arkadelphia is a city in Clark County, Arkansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,714. The city is the county seat of Clark County. It is situated at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Two universities, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University, are located there. Arkadelphia was incorporated in 1857.
The site was settled in about 1809 by John Hemphill, operator of a nearby salt works, Arkansas's first industry. It was known as Blakelytown until 1839, when the settlement adopted the name Arkadelphia. Origin of the name "Arkadelphia" is uncertain. One possibility is that it was formed by combining Ark- from the state's name Arkansas and adelphia from the Greek meaning "brother/place".
Another explanation of the name is a combination of "adelphia" for place and "arc." Arkadelphia was once known as the "City of Rainbows", perhaps because the humid climate often resulted in rain.
Arkadelphia is located in northeastern Clark County at 34°7′19″N 93°3′58″W / 34.12194°N 93.06611°W / 34.12194; -93.06611 (34.121920, -93.066178), on the west bank of the Ouachita River. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.3 square miles (18.9 km2), of which 7.3 square miles (18.8 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.49%, is water.
Find the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Arkadelphia AR
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Arkadelphia residence. Paralegal education programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Arkadelphia AR.
Other Cool Cities in Arkansas