How to Find the Right Legal Assistant Program near Warren Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Warren AR and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for schools within traveling distance of their Warren homes. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be considered as well. Later in this post we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Warren AR lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly 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 manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training 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 requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Warren AR is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work 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 respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining 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
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at community and junior colleges in the Warren AR area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other important factors to think about also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Warren AR law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several Warren AR law practices 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 the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Warren AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without support. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in Arkansas or the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to acquire your education in the community where you want to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially investigate those schools that are within the Warren AR area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the cost, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Warren AR. Naturally if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Warren AR, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary 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 address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Warren AR?
If you live near Warren 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.
When settlers from the east began to arrive in south Arkansas, the land was inhabited by the indigenous tribe known as the Quapaw. The earliest cession of territory was made in 1818, with a later boundary against the neighboring Choctaw tribe in 1820, opening up the southeastern corner of the Arkansas Territory for settlement. Although the area had been settled by European-Americans for approximately thirty years, the city itself was not incorporated until 1851. Tradition says the city is named after a former slave, freed by Captain Hugh Bradley, the namesake of the county and leader of the main early settlement party which established the city. The original plat was laid out on land donated by Isaac Pennington, a key member of Bradley's company.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Warren found itself in the middle of a boom in the timber industry, a resource which continues to be important to the city's economy, although the lumber yards that were vital to Warren throughout the past century are no longer in operation.
Warren is located in northeast Bradley County on high ground 2 miles (3 km) west of the Saline River, a tributary of the Ouachita River. U.S. Route 63 passes through the center of the city, leading north 46 miles (74 km) to Pine Bluff and southwest 50 miles (80 km) to El Dorado. U.S. Route 278 bypasses Warren to the south and leads east 16 miles (26 km) to Monticello and west 26 miles (42 km) to Hampton.
Master In Legal Studies Online Warren AR
Selecting the right paralegal studies degree school is an important 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 Master In Legal Studies Online. But as we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Warren residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Warren 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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