How to Find the Right Paralegal Studies Training Program near Clarendon Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Clarendon AR and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying career 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 achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Clarendon residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just 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 paralegals and legal assistants assist Clarendon AR lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Clarendon AR is by earning a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to work 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 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 school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Clarendon AR area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to research also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Clarendon AR law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Clarendon AR law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what 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 exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Clarendon AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to first look at those colleges that are within the Clarendon AR area.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Clarendon AR. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Clarendon AR, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Clarendon AR?
If you live near Clarendon 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.
Clarendon is a city in, and the county seat of, Monroe County, Arkansas, United States. Located in the Arkansas Delta, the city's position on the White River at the mouth of the Cache River has defined the community since first incorporating in 1859. Although the river has brought devastation and disaster to the city occasionally throughout history, it has also provided economic opportunities, transportation, recreation and tourism to the city.
Once home to a variety of industries, today Clarendon's economy is largely based on agriculture. Similar to many Delta communities, the city's population has been dwindling since mechanization on the farm reduced the number of agricultural-related jobs in the area. At the 2010 Census, the population was 1,664, the lowest value recorded since 1890.
The area around Clarendon was originally populated by various Native American groups. By 1799, French hunters and trappers had built cabins at the mouth of the Cache River. It was the point where The Military Road from Memphis, Tennessee to Little Rock crossed the White River. The Military Road was begun in 1826 and completed in 1828. By that date, a ferry crossing and post office had been established in Clarendon, and the town served as the terminus for a stagecoach line to the west. The Military Road was used as the route for some groups of Native Americans being relocated from eastern states to Oklahoma during the forced relocations commonly known as the Trail of Tears; Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee groups are known to have traveled along it. A railroad bridge across the White River was constructed in 1883 by the Texas and St. Louis Railway; the ferry operated until 1931 when it was replaced by a highway bridge.
Paralegal Online Degree Clarendon AR
Enrolling in the best paralegal studies certificate school is an essential 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 Paralegal Online Degree. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Clarendon home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Clarendon 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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