How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Bryant Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Bryant AR and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Bryant homes. Of those alternatives, 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 qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold the same 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 category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Bryant AR lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers 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 paralegal can be complicated and rather demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Bryant AR is by earning a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies 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 program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Bryant AR area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial aspects to consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Bryant AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Bryant AR law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Bryant AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high 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 highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a legal assistant school located in Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within the Bryant AR area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Bryant AR. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Bryant AR, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Bryant AR?
If you live near Bryant 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.
Bryant is a city in Saline County, Arkansas, United States and a suburb of Little Rock. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city was 16,688. It is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area.
European settlers established themselves along Hurricane Creek in the early 19th century. A skirmish in the area occurred during the American Civil War. Rail service in the 1870s brought development. The town was hard hit by economic struggles in the early 20th century and through the Great Depression. World War II era saw development as demand for the area's bauxite grew.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,764 people, 3,601 households, and 2,823 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,076.4 people per square mile (415.6/km²). There were 3,762 housing units at an average density of 414.7 per square mile (160.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.2% White, 1.5% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 1.05% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Online Paralegal Studies Bryant AR
Selecting the ideal legal assistant training program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Online Paralegal Studies. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Bryant residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community 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 profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Bryant 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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University of Arkansas–Fort Smith
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