How to Find a Paralegal Program near Honolulu Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Honolulu HI and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational options are being offered, both at school and online. But with so many options to choose from, where does one start? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Honolulu homes. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be considered as well. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Honolulu HI with a diverse array of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may assist with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be diverse in support of the firms where they work, but some of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a Honolulu HI paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly 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 manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Honolulu HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take as little as six months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Hawaii to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected certifying agencies in the profession 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 school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two essential initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Honolulu HI.
Online Paralegal Training
Online paralegal programs have become more available and may be a good alternative for those in Honolulu HI searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who continue to work while earning a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even secondary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal choice for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Since you now you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating Honolulu HI area schools. But because there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important factors to think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in need to be accredited by a reputable organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Honolulu HI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the Honolulu HI paralegal programs you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your training exclusively. Checking that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law offices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding 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 present a pathway for students to start establishing contacts within the Honolulu HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Since laws vary among states, it might be a good idea to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to establish relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to acquire your education in the area where you wish to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to first investigate those colleges that are within your Honolulu HI local region.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the length of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be obtainable to help reduce some of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Honolulu HI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? A number of paralegal students keep working while getting their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Honolulu HI, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in offers that option. Finally, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Honolulu HI?
Honolulu (/ˌhɒnəˈluːluː/;Hawaiian: [honoˈlulu]) is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is an unincorporated part of and the county seat of the City and County of Honolulu on the island of O'ahu.[a] The city is the main gateway to Hawai'i and a major portal into the United States. The city is also a major hub for international business, military defense, as well as famously being host to a diverse variety of east-west and Pacific culture, cuisine, and traditions.
Honolulu is the most remote city of its size in the world and is the westernmost major U.S. city. For statistical purposes, the U.S. Census Bureau recognizes the approximate area commonly referred to as "City of Honolulu" (not to be confused with the "City and County") as a census county division (CCD). Honolulu is a major financial center of the islands and of the Pacific Ocean. The population of the Honolulu census designated place (CDP) was 359,870 as of the 2017 population estimate. while the Honolulu CCD was 390,738 and the population of the consolidated city and county was 953,207.
Honolulu means "sheltered harbor" or "calm port". The old name is Kou, a district roughly encompassing the area from Nu'uanu Avenue to Alakea Street and from Hotel Street to Queen Street which is the heart of the present downtown district. The city has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan near the city on December 7, 1941.
As of 2015[update], Honolulu was ranked high on world livability rankings, and was also ranked as the 2nd safest city in the U.S. It is also the most populated Oceanian city outside Australasia and ranks second to Auckland as the most populous city in Polynesia.
Choose the Best Paralegal Program near Honolulu HI
Selecting the right paralegal training program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Honolulu home. Paralegal education programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you decide to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will have the ability to evaluate each school and make your final selection. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Honolulu HI.
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