How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Des Arc Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Des Arc AR and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within driving distance of their Des Arc homes. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Des Arc AR attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their routine tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, 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 functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
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. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Des Arc AR is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Des Arc 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 particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of 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 significant issues to think about as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get 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 obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Des Arc AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. 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. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Des Arc AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start developing contacts within the Des Arc AR legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
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 Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish 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 want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Des Arc AR area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the expense, so be sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Des Arc AR. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Des Arc AR, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you select offers that option. Last, inquire what the process is for making-up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Des Arc AR?
If you live near Des Arc 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.
Des Arc, Arkansas
Des Arc is a city on the White River in the Arkansas Delta, United States. It is the largest city in Prairie County, Arkansas, and the county seat for the county's northern district. Incorporated in 1854, Des Arc's position on the river has shaped its culture, history, and economy, beginning as a major lumber shipping port but leaving the city vulnerable to major floods in 1927 and 1937. As river shipping declined, Des Arc was bypassed by railroads, Interstate highways, and much of the post-industrial society. Des Arc's history is preserved by seven listings on the National Register of Historic Places, and the region's history is interpreted at Lower White River State Park. The city's population stopped growing in the 1980s and has been declining since, with a population of 1,717 at the 2010 Census.
White settlement in the area began in the Lower White River Valley while the area was within French Louisiana, which lasted from 1686-1763. French from Canada and South Louisiana passed through the area while hunting and trapping bears and other animals. They shipped furs and bear oil downriver to Arkansas Post, which was the only established settlement in the region, then likely onto New Orleans. During this period, several places were named by the French, including Des Arc and other places in Prairie County such as La Grue.
Des Arc was founded in 1854. A map shows the original town included 80 residential blocks, and two blocks for a commercial district. The gridded street pattern has never been fully developed, though most of the streets and blocks match the 1854 plan. The gridded east-west street pattern began with a street named McNulty Street in the north, near where present-day Highway 38 is located along the northern edge of the city. The southernmost east-west street was Barrier Street. The town ran from Foster Street (present-day First Street) on the eastern side, to present-day Eighth Street.
Become Paralegal Des Arc AR
Selecting the ideal paralegal training 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 Become Paralegal. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Des Arc home. Paralegal training programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school 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 carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to review each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Des Arc AR.
Other Arkansas Locations That May Be Of Interest
Bing: Arkansas Paralegal Certificate Schools Search results
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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