In Mississippi, paralegals and those who employ them must follow Rule 5.3, which defines the role of the legal “paraprofessional.” Under this rule, paralegals must work under the supervision of an attorney who accepts responsibility for their professional conduct. Paralegals must also receive guidance in ethics and confidentiality from their supervising attorneys.
Mississippi does not regulate paralegals, meaning that paralegals are not required to meet state-set standards for training or education. Those wishing to enter the workforce as paralegals may either pursue education in paralegal studies or find employment that provides on-the-job training.
Is There Paralegal Certification in Mississippi?
Aspiring paralegals are choosing education over on-the-job training in greater numbers. Earning a certificate or a degree can help distinguish entry-level job candidates from their peers as well as prepare paralegals to take one of the national certification exams.
There are several educational pathways available to paralegals, including certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. Educational institutions offering such programs may be approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and may be accredited. These can be important considerations for meeting national certification requirements and to future employers.
Certificate programs offer a certificate of completion to their graduates, who become certificated paralegals. Certificate programs offer focused instruction in paralegal studies and generally do not have many general education requirements. Certificate programs differ in their entry requirements. Some programs do not require any previous higher education. Others are offered only to those who already have a degree in a different field and wish to add coursework in paralegal studies to their skill set.
Mississippi Job Statistics
Degrees in paralegal studies offer both general education and focused coursework in paralegal studies. Currently, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in paralegal studies are available to aspiring paralegals.
Paralegals in Mississippi may choose to become certified paralegals in order to be recognized as knowledgeable and competent in their field. In order to become certified, paralegals must pass one of the exams offered by the three national professional paralegal associations. In Mississippi, paralegals often opt to take the CLA/CP exam as the Mississippi Paralegal Association is affiliated with NALA.
However, there are four exams currently offered:
- The CLA/CP offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The PACE offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PCC also offered by National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The PP offered by the Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
Requirements for the national exams differ between the three national paralegal organizations. A comparison can be found here.
Since 1980, the Mississippi Paralegal Association (MPA) has worked to increase the utilization of paralegals within the legal community. The MPA promotes the paralegal profession through networks formed with other related organizations and by encouraging its members to seek educational and professional development opportunities. The MPA hosts regular meetings, seminars and workshops. It also assists members in becoming certified and in finding employment. The MPA reports that many paralegals who are active in their organization find that they become more efficient at their jobs.
Large law firms can employ many paralegals as part of their team.