How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Conway Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Conway AR and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving range of their Conway residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Conway AR with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- 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 Conway AR paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps 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 Conway AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Conway AR.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students in Conway AR looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 reputable agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Conway AR area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to 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 many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant factors to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Conway AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Conway AR paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, including 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 practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Conway AR legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Conway AR local region.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Conway AR. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Conway AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Conway AR?
Conway is a city in the American state of Arkansas and the county seat of Faulkner County, located in the state's most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area, Central Arkansas. Conway is unusual in that the majority of its residents do not commute out of the city to work. The city also serves as a regional shopping, educational, work, healthcare, sports, and cultural hub for Faulkner County and surrounding areas. Conway's growth can be attributed to its jobs in technology and higher education with its largest employers being Acxiom, the University of Central Arkansas, Hewlett Packard, Hendrix College, Insight Enterprises, and many technology start up companies. Conway is home to three post-secondary educational institutions, earning it the nickname "The City of Colleges".
As of the 2017 Census Estimate, the city proper had a total population of 65,782, making Conway the eighth-largest city in Arkansas. Central Arkansas, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, is ranked 75th largest in the United States with 734,622 people in 2016. Conway is part of the larger Little Rock–North Little Rock, AR Combined Statistical Area, which in 2016 had a population of 905,847, and ranked the country's 60th largest CSA.
The city of Conway was founded by Asa P. Robinson, who came to the area shortly after the Civil War. Robinson was the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union Pacific). Part of his compensation was the deed to a tract of land, one square mile, located near the old settlement of Cadron. When the railroad came through, Robinson deeded a small tract of his land back to the railroad for a depot site. He laid off a town site around the depot and named it "Conway Station", in honor of a famous Arkansas family. Conway Station contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. Despite being founded as a railroad town, there currently exists no passenger service. The disappearance of passenger rail service in the region is attributed to the emphasis placed on the automobile.
In 1878, Father Joseph Strub, a priest in the Roman Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers, arrived in Arkansas. A native of Alsace-Lorraine, Strub was expelled from Prussia during the Kulturkampf in 1872. He moved to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh, where he founded Duquesne University in October 1878. Difficulties with Bishop John Tuigg led Strub to leave Pittsburgh in late October 1878 to travel to Conway. In 1879, Strub convinced the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad to deed 200,000 acres (810 km2) along the northern side of the Arkansas River to the Holy Ghost Fathers in order to found the St. Joseph Colony. This included land on which Father Strub founded and built St. Joseph Catholic Church of Conway. As part of the land deal, the railroad offered land at 20 cents per acre to every German immigrant. In order to attract Roman Catholic Germans to Conway and the surrounding areas, Father Strub wrote The Guiding Star for the St. Joseph Colony. In addition to extolling the qualities of Conway and the surrounding area, Father Strub provided information on how best to travel from Europe to Conway. By 1889, over 100 German families had settled in Conway, giving the town many of its distinctively German street and business names.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Conway AR
Choosing the ideal paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Conway residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Conway AR.
Other Cool Cities in Arkansas
Business Results 1 - 10 of 7