How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Wiggins Mississippi
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wiggins MS and start your journey that will lead to a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic choices are becoming available, 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 traveling range of their Wiggins homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you need to consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be taken into account too. Later on in this post we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered to earn a paralegal certificate or degree.
Mississippi Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wiggins MS lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but some of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants really are the main support systems for Wiggins MS lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and may be earned at many Wiggins MS area community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Mississippi to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 certificate or degree from an accredited Wiggins MS area school (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Legal assistant and paralegal online schools have become more prevalent in Wiggins MS and may be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a reputable organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online could be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the process of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at Wiggins MS area junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant issues to consider also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wiggins MS law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Mississippi legal assistant schools you are contemplating. This is of specific importance if you are entering the profession with no prior experience, since Wiggins MS employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other Wiggins MS legal establishment while still in school. They can also provide a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Wiggins MS legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the Campus Located? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a paralegal school located in Mississippi or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the neighboring Wiggins MS legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first consider those schools that are within your local area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wiggins MS. Naturally if you opt to attend an online school, some of these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Wiggins MS, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you select makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Select the Right Paralegal Program near Wiggins MS
Choosing the best paralegal training program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on-campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Wiggins home. Paralegal training programs are provided in various lengths and formats. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each school and make your ultimate selection. And with the right training you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Wiggins MS.
More About Wiggins Mississippi
Wiggins is a city in Stone County, Mississippi, United States. It is part of the Gulfport–Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,390 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Stone County.
Wiggins is named after Wiggins Hatten, the father of Madison Hatten, one of the area's original homesteaders. It was incorporated in 1904, and the 1910 census reported 980 residents. In the early 1900s, Wiggins prospered along with the booming timber industry. Wiggins was once headquarters of the Finkbine Lumber Company.
On January 21, 1910, between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm, more than half of the Wiggins business district was destroyed by fire. The fire started from unknown origin in the Hammock Building, a lodging house, and spread rapidly because of strong winds from the northwest. With no city fire department or waterworks, the residents of Wiggins resorted to bucket brigades and dynamite to stop the fire, which was confined to the east side of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad. The fire consumed 41 business establishments, including the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad depot. Only two or three residential dwellings were destroyed, because most homes were built away from the business district.
Wiggins has long been known for its pickle production, and at one time boasted of being home to the world's largest pickle processing facility. However, the pickle processing facility is now closed, and although the timber industry has declined since the boom years, it still sustains many businesses in Wiggins.
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