How to Select the Right Paralegal Studies School near Brinkley Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Brinkley AR and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for schools within commuting range of their Brinkley homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill 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 separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Brinkley AR attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
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 launch your career as a legal assistant in Brinkley AR is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Brinkley AR area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Brinkley AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Brinkley AR law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Brinkley AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you want to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Brinkley AR area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Brinkley AR. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Brinkley AR, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Brinkley AR?
If you live near Brinkley Arkansas or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
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."
Accredited Online Paralegal Programs Brinkley AR
Enrolling in the right legal assistant training program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Accredited Online Paralegal Programs. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Brinkley residence. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Brinkley AR.
Other Arkansas Locations That May Be Of Interest
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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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University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
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