How to Pick a Paralegal School near Haleiwa Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Haleiwa HI and begin your journey that will lead to a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you find the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic options are being offered, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within driving range of their Haleiwa homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when picking a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this article we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational options that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Haleiwa HI with a wide range of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their everyday activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Haleiwa HI paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys have the ability to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Haleiwa HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue and earn a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Haleiwa HI.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more available and can be a good option for students in Haleiwa HI looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Programs
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can begin the process of assessing Haleiwa HI area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like many prospective students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial factors to think about as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are researching so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Haleiwa HI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the School? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Haleiwa HI paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call a few law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also present a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Haleiwa HI legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement 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 Hawaii legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ from state to state, it might be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to develop relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more justification to obtain your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Haleiwa HI local area.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Haleiwa HI. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend weekend or evening classes near Haleiwa HI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, find out what the process is for making-up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Haleiwa HI?
Haleʻiwa is a North Shore community and census-designated place (CDP) in the Waialua District of the island of Oʻahu, City and County of Honolulu. Haleʻiwa is located on Waialua Bay, the mouth of Anahulu Stream (also known as Anahulu River). A small boat harbor is located here, and the shore of the bay is surrounded by Haleʻiwa Beach Park (north side) and Haleʻiwa Aliʻi Beach Park (south side). Further west from the center of town is Kaiaka State Recreation Area on Kiaka Point beside Kaiaka Bay. As of the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 3,970. It is the largest commercial center on the North Shore of the island. Its old plantation town character is preserved in many of the buildings, making this a popular destination for tourists and residents alike, visiting surfing and diving sites along the north shore.
Haleʻiwa is located at 21°35'24" North, 158°6'50" West (21.590050, -158.113928), southwest along Kamehameha Highway (State route 83) from Pūpūkea. At Haleʻiwa, Kamehameha Highway becomes state route 99 (at the traffic circle known as "Weed Circle"), which runs eastward up across the Oʻahu central plateau to Wahiawā. A new bypass route (Joseph P. Leong Highway) avoids both the traffic circle and Haleʻiwa, extending state route 83 to just north of Haleʻiwa town. Haleʻiwa Road and both Kaukonahua Road and Waialua Beach Road from Weed Circle go south and southwest into Waialua across Paukauila Stream.
"The historic Rainbow Bridge over the Anahulu River marks the northern entrance to old Haleiwa Town. There you will find small shops, eateries and many galleries. Two beach parks surround the small boat harbor located in Waialua Bay, Haleiwa Beach Park located to the north and Haleiwa Alii Beach Park located to the south."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.7 km2). 2.3 square miles (5.9 km2) of it is land, and 0.69 square miles (1.8 km2) of it is water. The total area is 23.67% water.
Choose the Right Paralegal School near Haleiwa HI
Enrolling in the best paralegal educational program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Haleiwa residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to obtain your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Haleiwa HI.
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