How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Stuttgart Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Stuttgart AR and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational alternatives are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Stuttgart homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are necessary considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account too. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold the same job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Stuttgart 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 functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as 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 wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training 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 educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Stuttgart AR is by earning a certificate, which may involve just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help boost your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Stuttgart AR area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a respected organization 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 online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Stuttgart AR law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the legal assistant schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some Stuttgart AR law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Stuttgart AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Arkansas or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area 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 might want to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Stuttgart AR region.
How Much is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Stuttgart AR. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Stuttgart AR, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family obligations.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Degrees
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more prevalent and can be an excellent option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Stuttgart AR?
If you live near Stuttgart 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.
Stuttgart is a city in and the county seat of the northern district of Arkansas County, Arkansas, United States. It is located on U.S. Route 79, approximately 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Little Rock. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 9,326.
Stuttgart was founded by Reverend Adam Bürkle, a native of Plattenhardt in Germany. He moved to the United States in 1852 and founded a settlement at Gum Pond after living in Ohio. In 1880, he opened a post office and had thus to name the village. In honor of his home he named it after Stuttgart, then capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1882, the Texas and St. Louis railroad was opened. Stuttgart became a city in 1884, and in 1904, rice farming was first introduced in the Stuttgart area. Stuttgart's first Postmaster General was a black man named Martin Toms, according to the US Census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.2 square miles (18.7 km2), all land. Hard clay underlying the area's topsoil makes Stuttgart a good place to grow rice, which grows best in flooded fields made possible by the clay. The geography is mainly flat with no outstanding mountainous features with the exception of "WBA Mountain", a small artificial mound located west of the city.
Online Paralegal Degree Programs Accredited Stuttgart AR
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is a crucial 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 Online Paralegal Degree Programs Accredited. But as we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Stuttgart home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Stuttgart AR.
Other Arkansas Locations That May Be Of Interest
Bing: Arkansas Paralegal Certificate Schools Search results
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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