How to Pick the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Cabot Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Cabot AR and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within traveling distance of their Cabot homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Cabot AR attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- 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 complex and very 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 proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable 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 preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Cabot AR is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Cabot AR area, 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 add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency 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 online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Cabot AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school 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 call some Cabot AR law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Cabot AR legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success 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 substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. 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 initially investigate those schools that are within the Cabot AR area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help offset part of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Cabot AR. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Cabot 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 offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Cabot AR?
If you live near Cabot 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.
Cabot is the largest city in Lonoke County, Arkansas, United States and a suburb of Little Rock. According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 25,797, ranking it as the state's 20th largest city, behind Paragould. It is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area. Cabot has the third highest median household income in Arkansas (after Maumelle and White Hall).
Before the city of Cabot existed, an 1862 typhoid epidemic took the lives of about 1500 Confederate soldiers previously under Allison Nelson who were camped in the hills surrounding Cabot and nearby Austin, Arkansas. Four hundred twenty-eight poorly marked graves were exhumed in 1905 by a group of Confederate veterans and moved to a new site at Camp Nelson Confederate Cemetery located in Cabot on Rye Drive, just off Cherry Road between Campground and Mount Carmel Roads. Marble gravestones were placed over each grave and a large marble obelisk was erected to honor the dead. In 1982, a group of volunteers from Cabot began maintaining the cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair.
The city of Cabot began as a small settlement at a refueling station on the Cairo & Fulton Railroad. The settlement first appeared in 1873 and is thought to have been named after a railroad surveyor. First Baptist Church was established in 1876 and the Bank of Cabot (later merged into Centennial Bank) was founded in 1903. The city of Cabot was officially incorporated November 9, 1891 as the 139th city in Arkansas.
Paralegal Schooling Cabot AR
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Schooling. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Cabot home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Cabot 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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