How to Select a Paralegal Program near Stamps Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Stamps AR and start your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Stamps homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices 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. However, 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 Stamps AR with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by 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 activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Stamps AR paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually 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 launch your career in Stamps AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you might want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Stamps AR.
Online Paralegal Training
Paralegal online schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals in Stamps AR searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Stamps AR area schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Stamps AR law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Stamps AR paralegal programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Stamps AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Stamps AR local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Stamps AR. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Stamps AR, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Stamps AR?
A post office has been in operation in Stamps since 1887. The community has the name of the local Stamps family. Stamps was the shop headquarters for the former Louisiana and Arkansas Railway until the relocation in the early 1920s to Minden in Webster Parish in north Louisiana.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,131 people, 830 households, and 541 families residing in the town. The population density was 693.7 people per square mile (268.0/km²). There were 1,003 housing units at an average density of 326.5 per square mile (126.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.30% White, 54.48% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, and 0.56% from two or more races. Of the population 0.61% was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 830 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. Of all households 31.7% were made up of individuals and 17.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.1% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 19.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.6 males.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Program near Stamps AR
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Stamps home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions offer 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 pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Stamps AR.
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