How to Pick the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Pocahontas Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Pocahontas AR and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of potential students begin by searching for schools within driving range of their Pocahontas residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles 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 paralegals and legal assistants help Pocahontas AR lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Pocahontas AR is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may choose to continue and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Pocahontas AR area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant aspects to think about also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Pocahontas AR law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Pocahontas AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Pocahontas AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school domiciled in Arkansas or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to first look at those schools that are within the Pocahontas AR region.
How Much is the Entire Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, 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 minimize some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Pocahontas AR. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Pocahontas AR, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Degrees
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more popular and can be an excellent option for students looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Pocahontas AR?
If you live near Pocahontas 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.
Pocahontas is a city in Randolph County, Arkansas, United States, along the Black River. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 6,765. The city is the county seat of Randolph County.
The family of Dr. Ransom S. Bettis is given the credit for being the first settlers on the land now called Pocahontas. Dr. Bettis' daughter, Cinderella, married Thomas S. Drew, and lived on 800 acres where the town of Biggers now exists. Bettis and Drew led the founding of Pocahontas as the county seat of Randolph County.
Randolph County is famous for many "firsts"; Arkansas' oldest town, Davidsonville, was established in 1815. The first Arkansas post office was built in Davidsonville in 1817, and the first state courthouse was established in 1818. The earliest land claim was in 1809 near what is now Ravenden Springs. The first actual term of court convened in Arkansas was in 1815 in a part of Lawrence County that was given over to Randolph County. And the country's first overland route, the Natchitoches Trail, went through parts of Randolph County.
Master Of Legal Studies Programs Pocahontas AR
Enrolling in the right paralegal certificate school is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Master Of Legal Studies Programs. But as we have discussed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Pocahontas home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Pocahontas AR.
Other Arkansas Locations That May Be Of Interest