How to Pick the Right Paralegal Studies Degree Program near Hot Springs Village Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hot Springs Village AR and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives 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 Hot Springs Village homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Hot Springs Village AR attorneys with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
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 academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Hot Springs Village AR is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to accomplish. Many 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 two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice 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 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 school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Hot Springs Village AR area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other important issues to research also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Hot Springs Village AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Hot Springs Village AR law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Hot Springs Village AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools 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 corroborates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially consider those schools that are within the Hot Springs Village AR region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. Having said that, 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 also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is offered in Hot Springs Village AR. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Hot Springs Village AR, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Hot Springs Village AR?
If you live near Hot Springs Village 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.
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Hot Springs Village is a census-designated place (CDP) in Garland and Saline counties in the U.S. state of Arkansas. As it is situated in two counties, it is also part of two metropolitan statistical areas. The portion in Garland County is within the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the portion extending into Saline County is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 12,807 at the 2010 census. In land area, it is the largest gated community in the United States.
Hot Springs Village is located at 34°39′52″N 92°59′46″W / 34.66444°N 92.99611°W / 34.66444; -92.99611 (34.664504, -92.996192). According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 55.7 square miles (144 km2), of which 53.5 square miles (139 km2) is land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) (3.92%) is water.
Hot Springs Village has more than 26,000 acres, much of it wooded. HSV is governed by the HSV Property Owners' Association (POA), a private, tax-exempt property owners association. A chief executive officer and a seven-member volunteer board of directors, who are elected in staggered three-year terms, comprise POA leadership. Day-to-day operation of the POA is handled by an average of 475 employees assigned to one of six departments: Administration, Golf, Planning and Inspection, Public Safety, Public Works, and Recreation.
Paralegal Studies Program Hot Springs Village AR
Enrolling in the right paralegal certificate school is a crucial 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 Paralegal Studies Program. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Hot Springs Village home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating 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 examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Hot Springs Village 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
ADCP Blackboard Calendar Campus Events Campus Map CareerLink Class Schedule Colleges & Schools Degree Plans Final Exams Housing Jobs Join The Pride Majors/Minors My UAFS News Registrar Scholarships SGA ... Career-based degree and certificate programs that advance theory with hands-on learning ... Arkansas 72913-3649 479-788-7000. Facebook ...
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