How to Choose a Paralegal Training Program near Bauxite Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Bauxite AR and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? A number of potential students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Bauxite homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into consideration too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job roles and functions, just 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 attorneys in Bauxite AR with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their regular tasks can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Bauxite AR paralegal can be complex and very challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not limited to clerical or administrative tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since 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 alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career in Bauxite AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might 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 maximize 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Bauxite AR.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and can be a good alternative for those in Bauxite AR searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet 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 considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Bauxite AR area schools. But considering that there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other crucial factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Bauxite AR law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are often available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Bauxite AR paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior work history, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking 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 call some law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also present a means for students to start creating contacts within the Bauxite AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to initially look at those colleges that are within your Bauxite AR local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. 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 offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Bauxite AR. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Bauxite AR, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Bauxite AR?
Bauxite is a town in Saline County, Arkansas, United States. Located within Central Arkansas, the town is named for bauxite, the source ore for aluminium, which was found in abundant quantities in the area and became a source of aluminium refining. The town's population boomed during expanded aluminium production during World War II and shrank rapidly with output of the ore. Bauxite was incorporated as a town in 1973. The population was 487 at the 2010 census.
The ore for which the town is named was discovered in the area in the early 1890s and mined by the General Bauxite Company until 1905, when the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, a northeastern aluminium refining company, purchased vast tracts of land in Saline County after learning of the high-quality ore that was being shipped from the area. The company bought out the local producers of the ore, including the General Bauxite Company. Pittsburgh Reduction would go on to incorporate as the Aluminum Company of America, or ALCOA.
Production of the ore rose rapidly, growing from 200,000 short tons (180,000 t) in 1914 during World War I, to 560,000 short tons (510,000 t) by war’s end in 1918. With decreased demand and an expanded source base in South America, Arkansas production levels fluctuated with demand, dropping as low as 60,000 short tons (54,000 t) per annum in the mid-1930s.
World War I provided the greatest surge in growth for Bauxite, with multiple camps developing in and around the present-day city, often segregated by race or ethnicity, with such camp names as Italy Camp, Mexico Camp, Africa Camp, etc. Throughout the Great Depression, ALCOA provided a standard of living for its employees that was generally un-matched during that period of economic turbulence.
Find the Ideal Paralegal Program near Bauxite AR
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Bauxite residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in various formats and lengths. Various types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to review each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Bauxite AR.
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