How to Find a Paralegal Certificate Program near Walls Mississippi
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Walls MS and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within traveling range of their Walls homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program must be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just 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 assist lawyers in Walls MS with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their daily tasks may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Walls MS paralegal can be complex and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for attorneys. And since 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 alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career in Walls MS as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may require as little as six months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Mississippi to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 certificate or degree from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Walls MS.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good option for students in Walls MS looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Walls MS area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like the majority of prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some 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 choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick should be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Walls MS law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Walls MS paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the quality of your training exclusively. Checking that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking 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 law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Walls MS legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs 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 graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to establish relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within your Walls MS local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be available to help minimize some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Walls MS. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Walls MS, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Last, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Walls MS?
Walls is a town located in northern DeSoto County, Mississippi, United States, near the Mississippi River, part of the larger region known as "The Delta", and known for its rich, dark soil. As it is in the upper northwest corner of Mississippi, it is in the Memphis, Tennessee metropolitan area. Its ZIP code is 38680. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 1,162, with an estimated population of 1,263 in 2014.
A Mississippian culture village site near Walls, the Walls Site, gives its name to the Walls Phase, the last prehistoric cultural expression before European contact. The historic trail of Hernando de Soto leads through DeSoto County to near Walls.
Today, Walls is a community rich in agriculture. Cotton, soybeans, rice and corn are planted each spring. The railroad played a vital part in the growth of the area in the early to mid 1900s. The mechanical revolution of the 1950s and 1960s changed Walls, as well as many other Delta communities.
The town was home to noted blues singer Memphis Minnie, whose family moved to Walls from Algiers, Louisiana, in 1904, when she was 7 years old. She won top female vocalist in the first Blues Unlimited Readers' Poll in 1973. In 1980, she was elected to the Hall of Fame at the inaugural W.C. Handy Awards. Memphis Minnie died August 6, 1973, and is buried in New Hope Cemetery in Walls. Her headstone was made possible by contributions from Bonnie Raitt and John Fogerty.
Enroll in the Right Paralegal College near Walls MS
Choosing the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Walls home. Paralegal education programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Walls MS.
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