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Classes for RCC’s new Legal Assisting certificate geared to busy lives

Beginning in Fall 2010, Rappahannock Community College will add another new career preparation option to its already wide selection. The college’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Business Management, Mr. Jack Moore (an attorney who is also a full-time RCC faculty member), and a number of other experts have created a program of study in Legal Assisting that can be pursued through a combination of Saturday and online classes. Candidates for this certificate will be able to complete the requirements in one year.

Employment prospects for entry-level legal assistants, both within RCC’s 12-county service region and in metropolitan areas within commuting distance, are expanding rapidly. United States Department of Labor statistics project that the number of job openings for legal assistants and paralegals will grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018—much faster than the average for all occupations. Most of these openings will be found at private law firms, which at present, according to the Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011, employ 71 percent of all workers in this field. RCC program instructor Lydia King says, “The best and brightest . . . can now learn here, stay here, and enjoy successful legal careers right here—thanks to RCC.”

Several community colleges whose service regions border RCC’s offer more advanced courses leading to an associate degree in paralegal studies. Completing the shorter certificate program at RCC will allow students to test their aptitude for the field through entry-level employment. If they find the work rewarding, they can then transfer to a neighboring community college to complete the associate degree, using the credits they earned for the RCC certificate to qualify for advanced standing.

King adds, “I’ve always been impressed by RCC’s strong emphasis on professional and occupational enhancement in the real world. Anyone who has ever imagined themselves in the fast-paced and demanding atmosphere of legal employment should seriously consider enrolling in this program, and anyone seeking organized, professional office personnel should insist on this type of course work for their employment candidates.” King graduated from Old Dominion University, magna cum laude, with the degree of bachelor of arts in English. She attended the College of William and Mary School of Law on scholarship, has passed the bar examination in New York and Virginia, and has worked in the legal profession since 1997.

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