How to Pick a Paralegal Studies Program near Brinkley Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Brinkley AR and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Brinkley homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take 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 for the most part both fill comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Brinkley AR with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Brinkley AR paralegal can be involved and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Brinkley AR as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded 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 guarantee your success as a paralegal in Brinkley AR.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those in Brinkley AR searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Brinkley AR area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Brinkley AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Brinkley AR paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Brinkley AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially consider those colleges that are within your Brinkley AR local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Brinkley AR. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Brinkley AR, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Brinkley AR?
Brinkley is the most populous city in Monroe County, Arkansas, United States. Located within the Arkansas Delta, Brinkley was founded as a railroad town in 1872. The city has historically been a transportation and agricultural center in the region, more recently developing a reputation for outdoors recreation and the ivory-billed woodpecker. Birding has become important to the city and region following the discovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in 2004, a species thought to be extinct 60 years earlier. Located halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tennessee, the city has used the slogan "We'll Meet You Half-Way" in some of its advertising campaigns. The population was 3,188 at the 2010 census.
In 1852, a land grant for the construction of rail lines was given to the Little Rock and Memphis Railroad Company, led by Robert Campbell Brinkley as its president. Robert C. Brinkley, born in North Carolina, lived in Memphis where he served a public career of "noble deeds and generous conduct" and for many years served as president of Planters Bank of Memphis.
Between 1852 and 1869, the settlement was called "Lick Skillet." When the day's work was completed, the railroad construction crew, mostly all immigrants from neighboring towns, cooked their supper over an open fire and returned to their homes when the last "skillet was licked."
The construction of the rail lines between Little Rock and Memphis brought the City of Brinkley into being. Brinkley is situated in the northern part of Monroe County, the halfway point between the two larger cities. It was laid out in the winter of 1869 on lands belonging to the railroad.
Find the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Brinkley AR
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Brinkley residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Brinkley AR.
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Paralegal Studies | California State University, East Bay
She also teaches the Introduction to Paralegalism class. Thornberry currently works as a real estate paralegal in a land development business. She is also a licensed realtor. Thornberry previously worked for the law firm of Burnham and Brown. Thornberry earned her Paralegal Certificate from California State University, East Bay in 1993.
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