Becoming a Paralegal in Arkansas - AR

paralegal arkansas

Arkansas’ paralegal profession is going nowhere but up in the coming years, creating an exciting environment for new and practicing paralegals alike. This is good news for aspiring and practicing paralegals in a state that’s home to corporate powerhouses like Walmart, Tyson Foods, and Dillard’s, all of which have corporate law departments that employ paralegals. Add to that major regional law firms like Friday Eldredge & Clark LLP in Fayetteville and Rogers, Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Burrow PLLC in Jonesboro, and Barber McCaskill Jones & Hale PA in Little Rock and it’s easy to see why Arkansas is the ideal place to get your paralegal career off the ground. If you want to learn how to become a paralegal, you’ll want to begin researching the education requirements sought by today’s lawyers.

Paralegal Education in Arkansas

Paths to employment as a paralegal in Arkansas include on-the-job training, education, and national certification exams. In line with other states, Arkansas state law does not require a degree or certificate in order for someone to work as a paralegal and therefore has no regulatory body that governs the profession. Arkansas law, in the Arkansas Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3, recognizes “paraprofessionals” who assist lawyers and directs that these paraprofessionals work under the immediate supervision of a lawyer who assumes responsibility for their professional actions.

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Is There Paralegal Certification in Arkansas?

Certificated paralegals are those who have earned a certificate or diploma for completing educational coursework in paralegal studies. Certificate programs may require that the applicant has earned a degree in another subject. Thus the certificate would offer a focused course of study specific to paralegals without requiring general interest coursework. Other programs may issue a certificate along with an associates’ degree.  Still others simply offer a certificate program. Certificate-issuing schools may or may not be recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) and may or may not be accredited.

Arkansas Job Statistics

  • Number of paralegals employed: 2,160
  • 2020 average annual salary: $40,420

Certified paralegals are those who have passed a national exam in their field and been issued certification by the examining body. Currently there are four national exams from which to select:

An informational chart comparing national certification exams, eligibility for testing, fees, and recertification is available here.

Employers may say they want a “certified” paralegal when in fact they want a certificated paralegal. It is important to ask a potential employer if they wish for a job candidate to have completed the educational and training requirements to earn a certificate or if they want a candidate who has passed one of the national certification exams.

Within the field, it is generally recognized that entry-level job candidates are more employable if they have completed a formal educational program that issues a certificate or a degree in paralegal studies. As many certificate- and diploma-awarding programs also meet the eligibility requirements for the national exams, aspiring paralegals may choose to edge out the competition by earning a certificate or diploma on the way to gaining national certification.

Professional Paralegal Associations

Arkansas has two professional organizations that current, aspiring or former paralegals can join.

The Arkansas Paralegal Alliance, Inc. (formerly Arkansas Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.) was established in 1983. It has members and regional meetings throughout the state. The Arkansas Paralegal Alliance (APA) works to create growth opportunities for paralegals in Arkansas by working with the Arkansas Bar Association, organizing continuing education courses, and creating educational and networking opportunities through events such as its Annual Convention.

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The APA is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the national organization which administers the CLA/CP certificate exam. The APA offers a study course for the CLA/CP and information about advanced paralegal certification through NALA.

The Arkansas Paralegal Association (ArPA), an affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), ArPA membership is offered at the Voting and Student levels. Membership is open to anyone engaged in the following:

  • Actively working in the paralegal profession
  • A student or educator in the paralegal profession
  • An individual interested in expanding the paralegal profession

ArPA works towards the goals of furthering the advancement of the paralegal profession and increasing unity and diversity throughout the legal community. It is affiliated with the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), which offers national certification through the PACE andPCCEexams.

The Arkansas Paralegal Association offers monthly meetings and an Annual Convention, and is open to those currently practicing as paralegals or those working toward that goal. Members automatically receive membership to the NFPA and access to the networking and educational opportunities such membership provides.

Association for Arkansas Legal Support Professionals (AALS) – As a NALS affiliate this association encourages NALS certifications and the following NALS membership levels:

  • Individual – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature
  • Associate – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature such as educators, judges, and attorneys
  • Students – Open to students taking at least nine semester credits from a legal-related program offered by an accredited school
  • Retired – Open to those who have been a NALS-affiliated member for at least five years prior to retirement
  • Life – Open to qualified individual members
  • International – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature who reside outside the US

Northeast Arkansas Legal Support Professionals – A NALS affiliate offering these membership levels:

  • Individual – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature
  • Associate – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature such as educators, judges, and attorneys
  • Students – Open to students taking at least nine semester credits from a legal-related program offered by an accredited school
  • Retired – Open to those who have been a NALS-affiliated member for at least five years prior to retirement
  • Life – Open to qualified individual members
  • International – Open to those engaged in work of a legal nature who reside outside the US

Law Firms

Large law firms are often large employers of paralegals. Most of these firms are located in Little Rock.

  • Friday Eldredge & Clark LLP
  • Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard PLLC
  • Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP
  • Wilson & Associates PLLC
  • Rose Law Firm PA
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • Quattlebaum Grooms Tull & Burrow PLLC
  • Dover Dixon Horne PLLC
  • Williams & Anderson PLC
  • Barber McCaskill Jones & Hale PA
  • Dover Dixon Horne PLLC
  • Gill Elrod Ragon Owen & Sherman PA
  • Cross Gunter Witherspoon & Galchus PC
  • Bassett Law Firm LLP
  • Hilburn Calhoon Harper Pruniski Calhoun Ltd.
  • Womack Landis Phelps & McNeill PA
  • Barrett & Deacon PA
  • Jack Nelson Jones & Bryant PA
  • Laser Law Firm PA
  • Munson Rowlett Moore & Boone PA
  • Matthews Campbell Rhoads McClure Thompson & Fryauf
  • Rainwater Holt & Sexton PA
  • Rainwater Holt & Sexton PA

Important Contacts for Paralegals

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary, growth, and job market trends for paralegals and legal assistants. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed December 2021.

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