How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Higden Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Higden AR and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will get 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 more and more educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving range of their Higden homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Higden AR attorneys with a wide variety of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Higden AR is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Higden AR area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important issues to think about as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Higden AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Higden AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start developing contacts within the Higden AR legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire 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 might want to first look at those schools that are within the Higden AR area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. 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 accessible to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Higden AR. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Higden AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Classes
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Higden AR?
If you live near Higden 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.
Higden is located in western Cleburne County at 35°34′15″N 92°12′13″W / 35.57083°N 92.20361°W / 35.57083; -92.20361 (35.570949, -92.203544), on the south and west shores of Greers Ferry Lake, a reservoir on the Little Red River. Arkansas Highways 16 and 92 run along the southern edge of the town and cross the lake at The Narrows, connecting Higden to Greers Ferry on the east shore.
At the 2000 census, there were 101 people, 52 households and 34 families residing in the town. The population density was 86.7/km² (225.7/mi²). There were 141 housing units at an average density of 121.0/km² (315.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.06% White, 2.97% Native American, 0.99% from other races, and 1.98% from two or more races. 4.95% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 52 households of which 15.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.5% were married couples living together, 5.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.94 and the average family size was 2.37.
Accredited Paralegal Certificate Programs Higden AR
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies certificate school is an important 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 Accredited Paralegal Certificate Programs. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Higden home. Paralegal education programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Higden 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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