How to Select the Right Paralegal Training Program near Maumelle Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Maumelle AR and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within driving range of their Maumelle residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both fill the same job roles and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Maumelle AR attorneys with a wide range of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transporting documents 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 perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their daily activities can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and rather 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 paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Maumelle AR is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more expansive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Maumelle AR area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other critical issues to think about as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over a few 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization 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 targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Maumelle AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Maumelle AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even if 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 offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Maumelle AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding 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 placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Maumelle AR area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Maumelle AR. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Maumelle AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more popular and can be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Maumelle AR?
If you live near Maumelle 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.
Maumelle is a city in Pulaski County, Arkansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 17,163. The city is located northwest of Little Rock, bordering the opposite shore of the Arkansas River and is part of the Little Rock metropolitan area.
Maumelle was founded by Jess Odom with federal assistance from the Urban Growth and New Community Development Act. Maumelle was the location of the second oldest Target Corporation distribution center. The center closed in 2009
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.05 square miles (31.2 km2), of which 8.8 square miles (23 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (5.07%) is water.
Legal Assistant Education Maumelle AR
Enrolling in the right legal assistant training program is a vital 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 Legal Assistant Education. But as we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Maumelle residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Maumelle 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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