How to Choose a Paralegal College near Dyess Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Dyess AR and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Dyess homes. 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 should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program need to be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Dyess AR 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 based upon the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Dyess AR paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Dyess AR as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Dyess AR.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal schools have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals in Dyess AR searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to those who keep working while earning a degree. As an added benefit, online programs can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses 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 greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Dyess AR area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other significant issues to research as well, such as 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 ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a highly regarded 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 focuses on 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 Dyess AR law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the Dyess AR paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Dyess AR legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from state to state, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to obtain your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those colleges that are within your Dyess AR local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Dyess AR. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Dyess AR, make certain 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. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Dyess AR?
Dyess is a town in Mississippi County, Arkansas, United States. The town was founded as Dyess Colony in 1934 as part of the Roosevelt administration's agricultural relief and rehabilitation program and was the largest agrarian community established by the federal government during the Great Depression. The town is best remembered as the boyhood home of country singer-songwriter Johnny Cash. The surviving original buildings of the colony period and Johnny Cash's boyhood home are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the "Dyess Colony Center" and "Farm No. 266, Johnny Cash Boyhood Home."
Dyess Colony was established in Mississippi County, Arkansas in 1934 as part of the New Deal efforts of Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide economic relief to destitute workers in the Great Depression. The experiment was the largest such community-building experiment established by the federal government during these years.
The project was established by Mississippi Country cotton planter and local politician William Reynolds Dyess (1894-1936), director of the Arkansas Emergency Relief Administration, who initially sought the establishment of a self-supporting agricultural community housing 800 families upon unused Mississippi Delta farmland. Director Dyess established the entity remembered to history as "Dyess Colony" as "Colonization Project No. 1," plans for which were submitted to chief of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) Harry Hopkins early in 1934. The project was approved by Hopkins in March 1934.
Some 15,144 acres (61.29 km2) of unimproved land were purchased by Dyess for the colonization project at the cost of $9.05 per acre, with the parcel redeemed for the payment of unpaid back taxes in this amount. The site consisted primarily of swamp and cutover forest land, although containing deep topsoil deposited by the Mississippi River, part of what was then the most productive cotton farming county in the entire United States.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Dyess AR
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Dyess home. Paralegal education programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Dyess AR.
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