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Arkansas Paralegal Schools

Arkansas paralegal schools are a good possibility for residents who want to get the education and experience they need to enter the workforce in a field with high demand and that offers a competitive wage. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that between 2012 and 2013, the state of Arkansas saw an increase of 8.2% in the area of professional and business services, which includes the paralegal profession.1 This increase is much higher than the national growth for the same time period, which was 3.5%.1 While wages for paralegals may not be as high as they are in other states, the low cost of living in the state coupled with the possible increase of paralegal positions makes earning a paralegal degree and becoming a paralegal in Arkansas an enticing option.

How to Become a Paralegal in Arkansas

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 1,280 paralegals working in the state of Arkansas in 2013.2 In Arkansas, there is not a degree or specialized certificate that is required in order to work as a paralegal. An Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct describes a paraprofessional as those who work under the direct supervision of an attorney.3 Under this rule, the supervising attorney takes all responsibility for the actions of the paraprofessional. There are both certificate and degree options for aspiring paralegals to pursue, which may help paralegals get hired by law firms.

Arkansas Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for paralegals in Arkansas in 2014 was $39,960.2 Those considering becoming a paralegal in Arkansas may have seen higher salaries in other states. According to a CNBC report, though, the state of Arkansas ranked second for states with the lowest cost of living in 2014.4 Plus, with major corporations like Wal-Mart nearby, there are good options for growth with multinational firms.

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, but have more 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 solely 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- legal assistance and paralegal. Students most often take two years to complete all 64/65 credit hours with the last two semesters spent taking advanced paralegal courses. Graduates are prepared to work within numerous professional legal offices having a variety of specialty courses under their belts like Real Estate Law, Business Organizations and Family Law. For individuals with full day 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

  • Arkansas Paralegal – The ArPA seeks to advance the paralegal profession, and inspire diversity in the field.

1. Bureau of Economic Analysis: http://www.bea.gov/
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm#ind
3. Arkansas Judiciary: https://courts.arkansas.gov/rules-and-administrative-orders/court-rules/rule-53-responsibilities-regarding-nonlawyer-assistant-0
4. CNBC’s America’s Top States for Doing Business in 2014: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101693393