How to Find the Right Paralegal Program near Quitman Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Quitman AR and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within traveling range of their Quitman residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you ought to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Quitman AR lawyers with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to 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 everyday activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage 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 way to begin your career as a legal assistant in Quitman AR is by earning a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and may be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. When you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. A few of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 cover 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 legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Quitman AR area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program 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 may also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Quitman AR law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate 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 work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 contact several Quitman AR law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Quitman AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a legal assistant school domiciled in Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those colleges that are within the Quitman AR area.
What is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid office to see what is available in Quitman AR. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Quitman AR, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you choose offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family obligations.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online programs have become more available and may be an excellent option for those looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Quitman AR?
If you live near Quitman 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.
Quitman is a city in Cleburne and Faulkner counties in the U.S. state of Arkansas. Its population was 762 at the 2010 census. The portion of the city in Faulkner County is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Quitman is located in southwestern Cleburne County at 35°22′52″N 92°13′5″W / 35.38111°N 92.21806°W / 35.38111; -92.21806 (35.381231, -92.218190). It extends southwest along Arkansas Highway 25 into Faulkner County. Highway 25 leads 15 miles (24 km) northeast to Heber Springs, the Cleburne County seat, and southwest 14 miles (23 km) to U.S. Route 65 north of Greenbrier.
As of the census of 2000, there were 714 people, 316 households, and 204 families residing in the city. The population density was 378.2 people per square mile (145.9/km²). There were 358 housing units at an average density of 189.6/sq mi (73.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.88% White, 1.04% Native American, 0.14% Asian, and 0.84% from two or more races. 0.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Where To Get A Paralegal Certificate Quitman AR
Choosing the best paralegal studies certificate school is an important 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 Where To Get A Paralegal Certificate. But as we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Quitman home. Paralegal academic programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter 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 ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Quitman 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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