How to Pick a Paralegal Degree Program near Star City Arkansas
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Star City AR and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within traveling distance of their Star City homes. Of those choices, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be considered also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your decision. 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 for the most part both hold 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 different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Star City AR with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with the logistics of a trial or transporting files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Star City AR paralegal can be complicated and rather challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to begin your career in Star City AR as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can 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 an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Star City AR.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Online paralegal schools have become more popular and may be an excellent option for those in Star City AR searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a respected organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can start the process of evaluating Star City AR area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to research as well, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Star City AR law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Star City AR paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 some law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to start creating contacts within the Star City AR legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary from one state to another, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to receive 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 might want to first investigate those colleges that are within your Star City AR local region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in cost based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help minimize some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Star City AR. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students continue working while getting their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Star City AR, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Star City AR?
Star City, Arkansas
Star City is a city in, and the county seat of, Lincoln County, Arkansas, United States,. Incorporated in 1876, the city is located between the Arkansas Delta and Arkansas Timberlands. With an economy historically based on agriculture, today Star City has developed a diverse economy based on both industry and agriculture. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,274. Star City is located within the Pine Bluff metropolitan area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,471 people, 875 households, and 603 families residing in the city. The population density was 587.5 people per square mile (226.6/km²). There were 972 housing units at an average density of 231.1 per square mile (89.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 76.93% White, 21.08% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 0.04% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. 1.21% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 875 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.0% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 24.8% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 22.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 75.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 69.8 males.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Star City AR
Selecting the right paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward 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 Star City residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Star City AR.
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