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Arkansas Paralegal Schools

Arkansas paralegal schools are a good match for those who want to earn the education and experience they need to enter the workforce in a field with high demand and competitive wages. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 1,410 paralegals and legal assistants employed in Arkansas as of May 2015, earning an average annual salary of $39,220.1 While the average wage for paralegals in Arkansas may not be as high as it is in other states, the low cost of living in the state coupled with a predicted increase in the number of paralegal positions makes earning a paralegal degree and becoming a paralegal in Arkansas an enticing option.

How to Become a Paralegal in Arkansas

In Arkansas, no specialized certification is required in order to work as a paralegal. Under Arkansas law, the supervising attorney takes all responsibility for the actions of the paraprofessional paralegal or legal assistant. While formal training or education may not be required by law, many employers do expect prospective paralegals to have at least an associate’s degree. There are many paralegal certificate and degree options that can help candidates become more competitive on the job market.

Arkansas Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for paralegals in Arkansas in 2015 was $39,220.1 While this may seem low compared to neighboring states, the cost of living in Arkansas is one of the lowest in the US. Plus, with major corporations like Walmart headquartered in the state, there are good options for growth with multinational firms. This is one reason that job growth projections for paralegals and legal assistants in Arkansas, at 15.1% through 2024, are nearly double the national projections for paralegal job growth at 8% across the same time period.2,3

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in Arkansas

NorthWest Arkansas Community College: NorthWest Arkansas Community College has an Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies, one of the few American Bar Association-approved programs in the state. Students must complete both college and major core courses and have flexibility with their electives. There are two distinct elective groups, Group A and Group B, from which majors can take either paralegal or work-related electives or criminal justice electives. The AAS in paralegal studies typically takes 24 months to earn, with the last two semesters dedicated to major advanced courses and electives with the option of pursuing an internship.

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith: The College of Applied Science and Technology at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith offers an American Bar Association-approved Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies. Students typically take two years to complete the 65 credit hour curriculum, with the last two semesters spent taking advanced paralegal courses. Graduates are prepared to work within professional legal offices through specialty courses like Real Estate Law, Business Organizations, and Family Law. For individuals with full-day work schedules, UAFS offers all of its paralegal classes at night on a rotating schedule.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in Arkansas

Provost Umphrey Law Firm, LLP is among the top law firms in the US based on the number of its attorneys ranked among the Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Plaintiff Personal Injury and Product Liability. Its locations include an office in Little Rock, and it encourages its staff to be active in the community and demonstrate a commitment to excellence that matches the firm’s vision. Barber Law Firm is one of the oldest as well as one of the largest law firms in Arkansas and counts among its clients local, regional, and multinational corporations, many of which are instantly recognizable names in business. Brown & James has over 115 attorneys across the US in its practice, including an office in Little Rock. The firm is growing rapidly and is seeking paralegal graduates to join its support staff. Benefits at Brown & James include a comprehensive training program, a diverse workplace, and flexible hours.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in Arkansas

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

NorthWest Arkansas Community College (Bentonville)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock)
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Technology
Technical Certificate | Legal Secretarial

Southeast Arkansas College (Pine Bluff)
Associate in Applied Science | Paralegal Technology

University of Arkansas (Fort Smith)*
Associate of Applied Science | Paralegal Studies

Student Review: “My experience at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith was more than I could have asked for. When I entered the criminal justice program, it had just been revamped with more professors and a new coordinator, or dean. The dean was Mr. Charles Smith, who was the ex-prosecuting attorney for the region. This was exciting news for us as we knew that the experience he would bring to the classroom was going to be priceless. The curriculum seemed to fit what every student was focused on – real-world application. We all understood that the degree hanging on your wall was very important but that what employers needed were people who could perform in the field. The classes seemed to be filled with instructors who were not afraid to close the textbook and just have us start conversations and debates about what parts of the criminal justice system were broken and why. Not only that, but we tried to put our heads together to find the solutions for these problems. This set our program apart and helped to unify the student body, which spilled over onto exam scores.” -Student at the University of Arkansas Fort Smithstars-4

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources

References:
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm