How to Choose a Paralegal Certificate Program near Rienzi Mississippi
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Rienzi MS and start your journey that will lead to a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by trying to find schools within commuting range of their Rienzi homes. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you must ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Rienzi MS lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm may assist with the logistics of a trial or transferring documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their regular activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career as a paralegal in Rienzi MS is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Mississippi to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training options are available, you can start the process of evaluating schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Rienzi MS area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant issues to research also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Rienzi MS law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are often accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Rienzi MS law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Rienzi MS legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Mississippi legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from state to state, it may be a good idea to choose a legal assistant school located in Mississippi or the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to build relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to first consider those schools that are within the Rienzi MS area.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be obtainable to help minimize part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Rienzi MS. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many legal students continue working while obtaining their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Rienzi MS, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Programs
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more available and may be a good alternative for students searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to those who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Rienzi MS?
If you live near Rienzi MS or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
On April 27, 2011, a tornado hit Rienzi as part of the 2011 Super Outbreak, causing minor home damages and downing trees. The tornado was classified as an EF-0, with estimated wind speeds of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h; 56 kn). The tornado's path of destruction was 50 yards (46 m) wide, and the tornado traveled a path of 2.32 miles (3.73 km).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), all land. The town is concentrated along Mississippi Highway 356 (signed as Main Street and Front Street), just east of the highway's intersection with U.S. Route 45, in southern Alcorn County. Corinth lies to the north, Booneville lies to the south, and Glen lies to the northeast.
As of the census of 2000, there were 330 people, 127 households, and 99 families residing in the town. The population density was 332.9 people per square mile (128.7/km²). There were 147 housing units at an average density of 148.3 per square mile (57.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 69.39% White, 28.48% African American, 2.12% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.64% of the population.
Select the Best Paralegal School near Rienzi MS
Choosing the right paralegal training program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Rienzi home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many lengths and formats. Different types of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you decide to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate education you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Rienzi MS.
Other Mississippi Locations That May Be Of Interest