How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Harrison Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Harrison AR and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic alternatives are becoming available, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Harrison homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program should be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill 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 belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Harrison AR with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Harrison AR paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to launch your career in Harrison AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take 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 comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might want to proceed and get a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Harrison AR.
Paralegal Online Training
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for those in Harrison AR searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the process of evaluating Harrison AR area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important factors to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are considering so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may 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 training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Harrison AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Harrison AR paralegal schools you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also offer a means for students to start establishing contacts within the Harrison AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools 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 substantial networks and good relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you wish to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to first look at those colleges that are within your Harrison AR local area.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Harrison AR. Needless to say that if you decide to attend an online program, some of these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Harrison AR, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Harrison AR?
Harrison is a city in Boone County, Arkansas, United States. It is the county seat of Boone County. It is named after General Marcus LaRue Harrison, a surveyor that laid out the city along Crooked Creek at Stifler Springs. According to 2012 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 13,163, up from 12,943 at the 2010 census. Harrison is the principal city of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boone and Newton counties.
Race riots by white residents in 1905 and 1909 drove away blacks, establishing Harrison as a sundown town. Today it is known as a center of white supremacist activity, including the national headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the area, the first probably being cliff dwellers who lived in caves in the bluffs along the rivers. In later times, the Osage, a branch of the Sioux, was the main tribe in the Ozarks, and one of their larger villages is thought to have been to the east of the present site of Harrison. The Shawnee, Quapaw, and Caddo people were also familiar to the area.
The Cherokee arrived around 1816 and did not get along with the Osage. This hostility erupted into a full-scale war in the Ozark Mountains. By the 1830s both tribes were removed to Indian Territory. It is possible that the first white men to visit the area were some forty followers of Hernando de Soto and that they camped at a Native village on the White River at the mouth of Bear Creek. It is more likely that the discoverers were French hunters or trappers who followed the course of the White River.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Harrison AR
Choosing the best paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Harrison home. Paralegal training programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can achieve your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Harrison AR.
Other Cool Cities in Arkansas