How to Pick a Paralegal College near Hickam Afb Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Hickam Afb HI and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are being offered, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Hickam Afb homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school should be considered as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help lawyers in Hickam Afb HI with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are based upon 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 transferring documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks might include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping 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 Hickam Afb HI paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not confined to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to take on a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
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 quickest means to launch your career in Hickam Afb HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to continue and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. A few 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 certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Hickam Afb HI.
Online Paralegal Classes
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Hickam Afb HI looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an added benefit, online classes can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such items as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online might be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Programs
Once you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Hickam Afb HI area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to research also, for instance the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Hickam Afb HI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Hickam Afb HI paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Remember that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Hickam Afb HI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Hickam Afb HI local area.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure 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 reduce part of the expense, so make sure to talk to the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Hickam Afb HI. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Hickam Afb HI, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you choose makes available that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Hickam Afb HI?
Hickam Air Force Base
Hickam Air Force Base is a United States Air Force installation, named in honor of aviation pioneer Lieutenant Colonel Horace Meek Hickam. The base merged with the Naval Station Pearl Harbor to become part of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam. The base neighbors Honolulu International Airport and currently shares runways with the airport for its activities and purposes.
Hickam is home to the 15th Wing (15 WG) and 67 partner units including Headquarters of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Hawaii Air National Guard and the 154th Wing (154 WG) of the Hawaii Air National Guard. The Air Mobility Command's 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing (515 AMOW) provides tactical and strategic airlift within the Pacific region.
The 15th Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The 15th Operations Group (15 OG) controls all flying and airfield operations. The 15th Maintenance Group (15 MXG) performs aircraft and aircraft ground equipment maintenance. The 15th Mission Support Group (15 MSG) has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. The 15th Medical Group (15 MDG) provides medical and dental care.
The 535th Airlift, 96th Air Refueling, and 19th Fighter Squadrons are each hybrid units joined with the Hawaii Air National Guard's 204th Airlift, 203rd Air Refueling, and 199th Fighter Squadrons, respectively. These units are structured according to the Total Force Integration (TFI) concept, and as such have both an active duty Commander and a Guard Commander. They share missions as well as equipment.
Select the Best Paralegal Degree Program near Hickam Afb HI
Choosing the right paralegal degree program is a crucial first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Hickam Afb residence. Paralegal academic programs are offered in various lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Hickam Afb HI.
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