How to Choose the Right Legal Assistant Program near Little Rock Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Little Rock AR and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by searching for schools within driving distance of their Little Rock residences. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this post we will cover 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 first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold the same 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 different job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Little Rock AR attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their day-to-day activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals 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 take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to launch your career as a legal assistant in Little Rock AR is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish 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 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 ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges in the Little Rock AR area, as well as vocational and trade 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 also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Little Rock AR law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are typically offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school 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 verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Little Rock AR law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Little Rock AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arkansas or the state where you wish to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within the Little Rock AR area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. 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 be sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Little Rock AR. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Little Rock AR, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more prevalent and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less expensive than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Little Rock AR?
If you live near Little Rock 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.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831, on the south bank of the Arkansas River close to the state's geographic center. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named the "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche) by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 198,541 in 2016 according to the United States Census Bureau. The six-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 78th in terms of population in the United States with 738,344 residents according to the 2017 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock is a cultural, economic, government, and transportation center within Arkansas and the South. Several cultural institutions are in Little Rock, such as the Arkansas Arts Center, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities. Little Rock's history is available through history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, and historic sites such as Little Rock Central High School. The city is the headquarters of Dillard's, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Stephens Inc., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Heifer International, the Clinton Foundation, and the Rose Law Firm. Other large corporations, such as Dassault Falcon Jet and LM Wind Power have large operations in the city. State government is a large employer, with many offices being in downtown Little Rock. Two major Interstate highways, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40, meet in Little Rock, with the Port of Little Rock serving as a shipping hub.
Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called the "Little Rock" (French: La Petite Roche). The Little Rock was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing. The Little Rock is across the river from The Big Rock, a large bluff at the edge of the river, which was once used as a rock quarry.
Online Paralegal Degree Programs Little Rock AR
Choosing the right paralegal studies certificate program is a vital 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 Online Paralegal Degree Programs. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Little Rock home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Little Rock 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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