How to Select a Paralegal Program near Hoxie Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hoxie AR and start your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Hoxie residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into account too. 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 decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives 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 hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Hoxie AR with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. 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 practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Hoxie AR paralegal can be complicated and very 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 they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And because 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 Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Hoxie AR as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Hoxie AR.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for students in Hoxie AR looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of evaluating Hoxie AR area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important aspects to think about also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Hoxie AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Hoxie AR paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the program 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 contact some law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Hoxie AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ from one state to another, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within your Hoxie AR local region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Hoxie AR. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Hoxie AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hoxie AR?
Prior to 1955, Hoxie maintained a dual system of education for younger students, one for white students and another one for blacks. Rather than maintain two high schools, white high school students were educated locally, while black high school students were bused to a black school in Jonesboro. On June 25, 1955, in response to the recent Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Hoxie's superintendent, Kunkel Edward Vance, spearheaded plans to integrate the schools, and he received the unanimous support of Hoxie's school board. On July 11, 1955, Hoxie schools recommenced and allowed African American students to attend. In order to do "what was morally right in the sight of God" and to "uphold the law of the land", Vance insisted that all facilities, including restrooms and cafeterias, be integrated.
Although there were many nervous parents, the schools opening on July 11 went smoothly. The teachers and children got along fine, but unlike the two other school districts in Arkansas (Charleston and Fayetteville) that implemented partial integration, Hoxie attracted national attention. A team of photographers from Life Magazine was on hand to document the event. After the publication of the Life article, segregationists from outside the area converged on Hoxie in an unsuccessful attempt to reverse the school board decision. Handbills were printed making wild assertions including allegations of a plot between negroes, Communists, and Jews, and advocating for the death of "Race Mixers". A group of local citizens, led by soybean farmer Herbert Brewer, confronted the school board in an unproductive meeting. After the meeting, Brewer organized a White Citizen's Council, which called for students, both black and white to boycott the schools. Approximately one third of the white students refused to attend the schools beginning on August 4, 1955.
A lawyer, Amis Guthridge, the leader of White America, inc., attempted to draw more outside influence into the fray, inflamimg passions with statements such as calling school integration a "plan that was founded in Moscow in 1924 to mongrelize the white race in America" and claimed that "white Methodist women" wanted integration so they could get negro men into their bedroom. Johnson, Guthridge and others fanned the flames, and were joined by Orval Faubus in trying to invoke fears of miscegenation in white husbands and parents. In one rally, Faubus shouted "they do not want equality, you know they don't want equality"..."They want what you've got, they want your women!"
The Hoxie School Board filed suit against the segregationist leaders from Hoxie and elsewhere in the state and charged them with trespassing on school property, threatening picket lines, organizing boycotts, and intimidating school officials. In November 1955, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas Thomas C. Trimble ruled that pro-segregationists had "planned and conspired" to prevent integration in Hoxie. In December 1955, he issued a permanent injunction and restraining order against the segregationists. Their appeal in the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals was opposed by United States Attorney General Herbert Brownell and the U.S. Department of Justice. This marked the first intervention by the attorney general in support of any school district attempting to comply with the Brown decision. On October 25, 1956, the court ruled in favor of the Hoxie School Board.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Hoxie AR
Selecting the best paralegal training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Hoxie residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Hoxie AR.
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