How to Find the Right Legal Assistant School near Glenwood Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Glenwood AR and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate 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 a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Glenwood homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you ought to take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Glenwood AR lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs 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 academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Glenwood AR is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Glenwood AR area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other critical aspects to consider also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Glenwood AR law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few Glenwood AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Glenwood AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in Arkansas or the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially look at those schools that are within the Glenwood AR area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Glenwood AR. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Glenwood AR, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Glenwood AR?
If you live near Glenwood 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.
Glenwood is a city in Pike and Montgomery counties in Arkansas. The community is located along the Caddo River in the Ouachita Mountains. Glenwood was formed as a boomtown following the development of the Gurdon and Fort Smith Railroad and timber interests in the area. After the establishment of a lumber mill, the community received a post office and incorporated in April 1909. Although the community saw its major employer leave during the Great Depression, the city has again seen rapid growth in recent decades. The city also sees significant tourism related to its scenic position in the Ouachitas and among several recreational lakes.
At the 2000 census, there were 1,751 people, 696 households and 446 families residing in the city. The population density was 630.5 per square mile (243.2/km²). There were 772 housing units at an average density of 278.0/sq mi (107.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.18% White, 1.03% Black or African American, 1.03% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 8.79% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. 11.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 696 households of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.9% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.97.
Master In Legal Studies Glenwood AR
Selecting the right legal assistant certificate school is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Master In Legal Studies. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Glenwood residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in many formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice 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, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Glenwood 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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