How to Select a Paralegal Studies Program near Star Mississippi
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Star MS and start your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the right school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Star residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Star MS lawyers with a wide range of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their regular activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative duties more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to start your career as a paralegal in Star MS is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Mississippi to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important first steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs offered at junior and community colleges in the Star MS area, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Star MS law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Star MS law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin establishing contacts within the Star MS legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Mississippi legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it might be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in Mississippi or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may need to first consider those schools that are within the Star MS region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Star MS. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Star MS, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Degrees
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more available and may be a good option for those searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your degree or certificate online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Star MS?
If you live near Star 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.
MS Scandinavian Star
MS Scandinavian Star, originally named MS Massalia, was a car and passenger ferry built in France in 1971. The ship was set on fire in April 1990, killing 159 people, and the official investigation blamed the fires on a convicted arsonist, who died in the fire. This finding has since been disputed.
M/S Massalia was built by Dubigeon-Normandie S.A. in 1971 and delivered to Compagnie de Paquebots who put her on the route Marseille–Málaga–Casablanca and also cruises in the Mediterranean Sea.
In 1984 she was owned by a number of companies and named Stena Baltica, Island Fiesta and finally Scandinavian Star, a name given to her by Scandinavian World Cruises who chartered the ship for cruises between St. Petersburg, Florida and Tampa, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico.
Find the Right Legal Assistant Training near Star MS
Choosing the right paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Star home. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Star MS.
Other Mississippi Locations That May Be Of Interest
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