How to Pick a Paralegal Program near Stennis Space Center Mississippi
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Stennis Space Center MS and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some potential students begin by looking for schools within driving range of their Stennis Space Center residences. Of those options, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the program must be considered too. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both fill the same 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Stennis Space Center MS lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine activities might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers have the ability to handle a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a legal assistant in Stennis Space Center MS is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Mississippi to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying organizations in the field 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 discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Stennis Space Center MS area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously discussed, there are other significant aspects to research as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over 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 ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Stennis Space Center MS law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call some Stennis Space Center MS law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Stennis Space Center MS legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Mississippi legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in Mississippi or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may want to first investigate those schools that are within the Stennis Space Center MS region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be obtainable to help offset some of the cost, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Stennis Space Center MS. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of legal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Stennis Space Center MS, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more common and may be an excellent alternative for individuals looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to individuals who keep working while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Stennis Space Center MS?
If you live near Stennis Space Center 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.
John C. Stennis Space Center
The John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC) is a NASA rocket testing facility. It is located in Hancock County, Mississippi (United States), on the banks of the Pearl River at the Mississippi–Louisiana border. As of 2012[update], it is NASA's largest rocket engine test facility. There are over 30 local, state, national, international, private, and public companies and agencies using SSC for their rocket testing facilities.
The initial requirements for NASA's proposed rocket testing facility required the site to be located between the rockets' manufacturing facility at Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, Louisiana, and the launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Also, the site required barge access as the rocket motors to be tested for Apollo were too large for overland transport. Additionally, the Apollo motors were too loud to be tested at Marshall Space Flight Center's existing test stands near Huntsville, Alabama. A more isolated site was needed.
After an exhaustive site selection process that included reviews of other coastal locations including Eglin Air Force Base in Florida plus islands in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, NASA announced formation of the Mississippi Test Facility (now known as Stennis Space Center) on Oct. 25, 1961, for testing engines for the Apollo Program. A high-terrace area bordering the East Pearl River in Hancock County, Miss., was selected for its location. NASA entrusted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the difficult task to procure each land parcel either by directly purchasing the land or through acquisition of a perpetual easement.
Find the Ideal Legal Assistant College near Stennis Space Center MS
Enrolling in the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Stennis Space Center residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you elect to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can accomplish your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Stennis Space Center MS.
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