The Holmes Community College Paralegal Technology program is now offering two different pathways for students: Legal Assistant Technology and Legal Management Technology. The Paralegal Technology program is housed on the Ridgeland Campus and taught by Darleen Dozier.
“It’s the same basic program, but students will choose specialized electives depending on which pathway they take,” Dozier said. The Legal Assistant Technology option is more computer-focused classes, more about formatting documents (along with many other skills learned). The management option is more along the lines of managing a law firm, and the student will take more business classes.”
Students do have the option to complete both specializations and could even come out with two different degrees by only taking six extra hours.
“The degree is so versatile; I’ve got graduates working all over the place, not just law firms,” Dozier said. “You could work in a corporate environment, an insurance company, in a courtroom, an administrative agency, a hospital, among other places. Because it is so versatile, it opens up a number of opportunities to work in possible non-traditional environments and/or hours.”
Dozier still keeps in contact with many of her former students and they are proof of the versatility of the degree.
Tanya Rogers, CP, a 2010 Holmes graduate, is a paralegal supervisor at Forman Watkins & Krutz, LLP.
“I have always been interested in law,” Rogers said. “When I looked at the course work for the program, I knew this program was perfect for me. I couldn’t wait to take every single class. The classes you will take in the paralegal program will not only help you in your career, these classes will help you in your day-to-day life. The law touches us in a practical way every day.
“For example, the information and computer skills you will learn in this well-rounded program are far reaching into other career areas,” Roger said. “I highly recommend the Paralegal Technology Program at Holmes Community College.”
Amy L. Tester, CP, ALP, is a legal assistant for the U.S. Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Prisons – Consolidated Legal Center (CLC). She graduated from Holmes’ Paralegal Technology program in December of 2021 (after formerly graduating from Holmes in 2012 with an Associate of Art degree in business administration). In her position, Tester serves as Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) coordinator for the federal prison complex which consists of four security level prisons all located at one centralized Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City.
“I assist in civil litigation duties pertaining to Bivens and Habeas Corpus petitions filed by inmates against the Bureau of Prisons/United States,” Tester said. “I also assist in discovery efforts. I started my federal corrections career with the Bureau of Prisons in 2013. Prior to working for the Bureau, I had always had an interest in legal information and the criminal justice system. I was promoted to legal assistant at FCC Yazoo City, CLC in 2019 after the birth of my daughter. It was then that I wanted to be more educated in the legal field and feel more evolved in legal work to assist in my new legal position.
“I didn’t want to just show up and do the work I knew to do based on my bureau experience,” Tester said. “I wanted to actually know law and study law and be more familiar with the documents I came across daily, so I chose to go back to school. Holmes was my start and gave me the tools and studies I needed to feel like a part of something within my department. Holmes also prepared me for very tough paralegal certifications for reputable national paralegal associations like NALS and NALA.”
Tester now holds two legal credentials, Certified Paralegal (CP) with NALA and Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) with NALS. She is continuing her education at Mississippi College and will graduate next spring with a Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies.
“Without my experience at Holmes and the online capabilities to finish my legal studies, I would not be where I am today and I give all the credit to Holmes Community College,” Tester said. “Students who are on the fence, give Darleen Dozier a call and let her talk to you. She is over the program and I can almost 100 percent guarantee if the legal world is something you enjoy, you will be highly satisfied with the education you will attain while in the Holmes Paralegal Technology program.”
Kimberly Warren graduated from Holmes in December of 2012 before continuing on to earn her bachelor of science in legal studies from Mississippi College in May 2015. She is now a legal assistant for the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office – Consumer Protection Division.
The Attorney General’s Office is essentially the law firm for the State of Mississippi. The Attorney General, Lynn Fitch, is the chief law enforcement officer for the state and the Attorney General staff work daily to uphold and enforce the laws for the state, both criminally and civilly. The Consumer Protection Division protects Mississippians from unfair, anticompetitive and deceptive business practices.
“Even when I was little girl, I always wanted to do work in the legal field in some capacity,” Warren said. “I love to research issues and to find that one fact that may make or break a case. I have always wanted a career where I could make a difference. As a paralegal, I feel that I can do that in some capacity.”
Warren’s job duties range from administrative tasks to assisting consumers and helping with complex litigation. She also helps attorneys with the different computer programs that they use and conducts trainings for them on the programs. She has also helped draft proposed legislation.
“Currently, there are 12 colleges and universities that offer paralegal/legal assistant degree programs in Mississippi,” Warren said. “Of those 12, the program at Holmes under Darlene Dozier is by far the best. Mrs. Dozier does more than teach classes and what it means to be a paralegal. She encourages her students and pushes them to step outside of their comfort zone so that they can discover their true potential. Even now, after I graduated her program almost 10 years ago, I will still go to her for advice. This program that she has built along with the instructors truly make a huge difference in what you do and how you approach working in the legal field.
“When I started Holmes in January 2011, I had been out of high school for nearly 16 years,” Warren said. “A lot changed since that time, and I was way out of my element. I was terrified of the amount of work that had to be done on a computer as my skills were basic at best. However, all the instructors at Holmes were amazing and helped make it an easier experience. As I said, Mrs. Dozier pushed us to take on tasks outside of our comfort zones. She required that all enrolled in the program enter the Mississippi Paralegal Association Essay writing contest at least one time. The fall of 2011 was the first year that our program won first and second place in the contest. To my surprise, I won first place in the entire state. Without this program I would never have realized my true potential. Mrs. Dozier and this program changed my life, and I would not be where I am today without it.”
Ken Tullis, Jr., graduated from Holmes in 2019 and his most recent position was at Jones Law Group. He left that position in April to move to Memphis, but at Left Jones, he primarily assisted clients with interrogatories and requested medical records. He was also a runner that filed documents at different court houses around the Jackson area as well as a process server who served people.
“I got into the paralegal field because I wanted to be part of the legal field and at the time, didn’t want to incur the debt or invest the time to get law degree,” Tullis said. “It is a rewarding field; it is challenging but worth the effort. It has opened doors for me where I normally would not have had a chance.”
Tammy Hughes graduated Holmes in 2020 and is now a paralegal specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Her job duties include researching and interpreting disaster loan programs’ laws, regulations, polices and standard operating procedures.
“I’ve always helped family and friends with documents and decided to enhance my skills with paralegal studies,” Hughes said. “This is a wonderful and rewarding program that will require a high level of studying and preparation to launch your paralegal career. You will receive a comprehensive, well-designed curriculum and support system to help you become an excellent Paralegal. After all, ‘There’s No Place like Holmes!’”
For more information about the Holmes Paralegal Technology program and the new specializations, visit https://holmescc.edu/career-technical/paralegal-technology/ or contact Darleen Dozier at email@example.com.