How to Find a Paralegal School near Ward Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Ward AR and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive 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 more and more academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Ward residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school need to be taken into consideration as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options 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 hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, 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 help lawyers in Ward AR with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally 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 comply with a strict code 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 tasks may include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on related laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Ward AR paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Ward AR as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Arkansas to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly respected 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 school (we will discuss the benefits 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 Ward AR.
Paralegal Online Certificates
Paralegal online programs have become more available and can be a good alternative for students in Ward AR searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study 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 Studies Programs
Once you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can start the process of evaluating Ward AR area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to consider 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 programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Ward AR law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Ward AR paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Keep in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Ward AR legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Arkansas legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might need to initially consider those colleges that are within your Ward AR local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential obtained and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Ward AR. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Ward AR, verify classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the school you select provides that option. Last, ask what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Ward AR?
Ward is the third most populous city in Lonoke County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,067 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The city is divided into three wards, progressing from the northeast to the southwest. In the city's first ward is its downtown, which is situated diagonally along a railroad line running parallel to Arkansas Highway 367 (the former path of U.S. Highway 67). The second ward contains the central portion of the city, its industrial area, and its access to the current U.S. Highway 67/167 (Future Interstate 57). Arkansas Highway 319 (Peyton Street within the city south of Highway 367) is a primary thoroughfare in central Ward toward the southwestern section of the city. Some of the most recent development is in the city's third ward, situated mostly along Peyton Street, south of Wilson Street into the Old Austin community and Arkansas Highway 38; a small detached portion of the ward is located to the northwest along the railroad line and Arkansas Highway 367. Ward Central Elementary, the city's campus of the Cabot School District, is located in the larger portion of the third ward.
Ward is governed by a mayor-council form of municipal government, with a mayor, city clerk, and six-member city council, as well as four city departments — fire, police, street maintenance, and utilities (water and sanitation). City administration is housed in the former Ward Elementary School; the campus is also the site of the city's library, a branch of the Lonoke-Prairie Regional Library System, also the site of the Ward Lions Club.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,580 people, 938 households, and 726 families residing in the city. The population density was 662.4 people per square mile (256.1/km²). There were 1,075 housing units at an average density of 276.0/sq mi (106.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.33% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 0.78% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 1.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Ward AR
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Ward residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many formats and lengths. Several types of private and public institutions make available paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Ward AR.
Other Cool Cities in Arkansas
Business Results 1 - 10 of 4