How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies School near Marion Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Marion AR and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Marion residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job roles and functions, just 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 Marion AR lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a paralegal in Marion AR is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training 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 Marion AR area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if 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 commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Marion AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are often offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant programs you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few Marion AR law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Marion AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want 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 schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first look at those schools that are within the Marion AR area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid may be available to help minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Marion AR. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Marion AR, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in offers that option. Last, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Marion AR?
If you live near Marion 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.
Marion is a city in and the county seat of Crittenden County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 12,345 at the 2010 census, a 38.7% increase since 2000. The city is part of the Memphis metropolitan area. It is the second largest city in Crittenden County, behind West Memphis.
Although Marion was incorporated in 1896, the community predates that significantly. The site of Marion was part of Louisiana (New Spain) from 1764 to 1803, when it became Louisiana (New France). Some of the oldest land titles in the area are from Spanish land grants from a time prior to the Louisiana Purchase. After the Louisiana Purchase the area was part of the Arkansas Territory. During the 1830s the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Native Americans from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, passed through the area. Its location is close to where the Sultana Steamboat exploded and sunk. A memorial is placed on the city hall square to remember those lost in the accident
Marion, AR was named after Marion Tolbert. In 1837 two commissioners had been appointed by the county court to select a site for a new county seat. Tolbert and his wife Temperance gave a deed to the commissioners "for the county of Crittenden for county purposes" on June 25, 1837. A town was laid out, named Marion in honor of Marion Tolbert and was made the county seat of Crittenden County, AR. Marion has been incorporated on multiple occasions, first in 1851. The current incorporation dates from 1896.
Degree For Paralegal Marion AR
Choosing the right legal assistant training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Degree For Paralegal. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Marion home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to review each school and make your final decision. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Marion 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
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