How to Become a Paralegal in Arkansas
If you become a paralegal in Arkansas, you’ll be entering a field set for solid job growth. Paralegal jobs in Arkansas are expected to increase 15 percent annually, at almost double the national average, through 2026. Paralegals play a key role in helping lawyers prepare for legal proceedings by conducting background research and drafting court documents. A paralegal also may be responsible for interviewing witnesses, meeting with clients and preparing exhibits, though paralegals don’t represent clients in court or give legal advice. A paralegal in Arkansas must work under the supervision of a lawyer licensed in the state.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Arkansas interests you, do the following:
Research the paralegal profession.
Find out as much as possible about the challenges and opportunities of working as a paralegal in Arkansas before moving forward with education and training.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Get first-hand advice on training and the state job market by contacting professional organizations like the Arkansas Paralegal Alliance, Inc. (APA) or Arkansas Paralegal Association (ArPA).
Select an educational program.
With a certificate or degree in paralegal or legal studies, you’ll demonstrate that you’re serious about your career and have made a commitment to it by pursing an education.
Get involved in the field.
You can gain legal experience by working in an entry-level administrative job at a law firm while you’re still in school. Take advantage of opportunities for internships or volunteer with pro bono groups affiliated with the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership to stand out from other job applicants.
Research job opportunities.
Consider different jobs since your responsibilities may vary by employer. You may be able to pursue a specialized type of law. Look for job growth since the field is expected to expand.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Arkansas
Paralegals in Arkansas do not have a minimum education requirement. However, an educational background in paralegal studies can show employers you’re ready to make a valuable contribution from the start. A paralegal education can help you compete for the best jobs with the most prestigious employers. Options for paralegal education in Arkansas include:
- Two-year associate degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Voluntary national certifications for experienced paralegals:
- Professional Paralegal (PP) certification from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) from NFPA
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) from NALA for CP paralegals who master specific courses administered by NALA
Other types of paralegal education, including four-year bachelor’s degrees and post-degree certificates can be completed in Arkansas through accredited online school programs.
Paralegal Licensure in Arkansas
There is no requirement for licensure to work as a paralegal in Arkansas.
Paralegal Salary in Arkansas
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the median annual wage for paralegals nationally is $48,810, with paralegals in Arkansas earning a mean annual wage of $36,530.
Those in metropolitan areas tend to earn more, for example paralegals in the Little Rock area earned a mean annual wage of $45,080. Cost of living, level of education earned and years of experience in the field also play a factor in salary.
Career Opportunities and Job Growth in Arkansas
Over 1,400 paralegals are employed in Arkansas, with Little Rock being the site for almost half of all paralegal jobs in the state—some 530 paralegals work there. The majority of paralegals work in law firms, though jobs also exist in the legal departments of major corporations. Local, state and federal government offices also employ paralegals.
As a paralegal in Arkansas, you can remain competitive by joining national and regional paralegal organizations. These groups provide members with opportunities for mentoring, professional development, certification preparation and community service in the state. Professional organizations also are a good source for continuing education courses required to maintain certifications. The following organizations support paralegals in Arkansas:
- Arkansas Paralegal Alliance, Inc. (APA), an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA)
- Arkansas Paralegal Association (ArPA), a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
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