How to Enroll in the Right Paralegal Studies Program near Olive Branch Mississippi
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Olive Branch MS and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you find the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students begin by trying to find schools within driving distance of their Olive Branch homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school need to be considered too. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your selection. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help Olive Branch MS attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and abide by a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized 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. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career as a legal assistant in Olive Branch MS is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more expansive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Mississippi to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Things to Ask Paralegal Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges in the Olive Branch MS area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to consider also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few 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 decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Olive Branch MS law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you select is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call a few Olive Branch MS law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind 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 provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while attending school. They can also present an avenue for students to begin creating contacts within the Olive Branch MS legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Mississippi legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary from state to state, it may be advantageous to select a legal assistant school located in Mississippi or the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the community where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially investigate those colleges that are within the Olive Branch MS region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential obtained and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so make sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Olive Branch MS. Of course if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of legal students continue working while receiving their training and require flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Olive Branch MS, make sure classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more common and may be a good alternative for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially attractive to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a respected agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and formal environment, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Olive Branch MS?
If you live near Olive Branch Mississippi or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Olive Branch, Mississippi
Olive Branch is a city in DeSoto County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 33,484 at the 2010 census, up from 21,054 in 2000. Olive Branch is part of the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region that consists of three counties in southwest Tennessee, five counties in northwest Mississippi, and two counties in eastern Arkansas. From 1990 to 2010 Olive Branch was the fastest growing city in the United States, with a growth rate of 838%.[dubious – discuss] Along with other rapidly growing suburbs in DeSoto County, Olive Branch attributes most of its growth and development to the exodus of large numbers of middle-class families from central Memphis.
The first permanent Anglo settlers in the area were Stephen Flinn and his wife's brother-in-law, Milton Blocker. On April 13, 1836, they purchased 1,280 acres (520 ha) of land – known as Sections 34 and 35 – in newly created DeSoto County from Chickasaw chief Lush-Pun-Tubby for $1,600. Flinn conveyed the land to Blocker for $6,400 in 1840. A small community initially known as "Cowpens" sprang up in the early 1840s. The name was changed to "Watson's Crossroads" in 1842. In 1846, when a post office was established, the name was changed again to "Olive Branch". Mrs. Frances Wilson Blocker, a descendant of one of the community's founders, suggested the name as a way to symbolize the biblical story of a dove bringing a branch to Noah. With the exception of a few skirmishes occurring in an area southwest of the community, Olive Branch escaped much of the destruction and violence during the Civil War.
Olive Branch was incorporated as a town on May 1, 1874. Ben Wesson was elected as the first mayor. At the first census conducted after incorporation in 1880, the population was 73. A railroad line was built through Olive Branch in 1885, connecting the town to Memphis and Birmingham. The town was officially designated a village on March 6, 1888.
Paralegal Bachelor Degree Online Olive Branch MS
Selecting the ideal paralegal studies certificate school is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Paralegal Bachelor Degree Online. But as we have covered in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Olive Branch home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous lengths and formats. Various kinds of private and public institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But regardless of how you decide to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to assess each program and make your final decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Olive Branch MS.
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