How to Choose a Paralegal School near Kailua Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kailua HI and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the ideal school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to be successful. As you most likely understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Kailua residences. Of those choices, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when picking a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you must ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 comparable job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Kailua HI with a wide range of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the job of a Kailua HI paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career in Kailua HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve just 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available also. Once you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to continue and receive a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Kailua HI.
Paralegal Online Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be a good option for individuals in Kailua HI searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can in some cases be less costly than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are reviewing are accredited by a respected agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are available, you can begin the process of assessing Kailua HI area schools. But considering that there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important aspects to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Kailua HI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Kailua HI paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Confirming that the school you select 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 rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start establishing contacts within the Kailua HI legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good indication that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it may be advantageous to select a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you want to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the community where you want to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to initially look at those schools that are within your Kailua HI local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the cost, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Kailua HI. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, a portion these additional expenses, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Kailua HI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Kailua HI?
Kailua, Hawaii County, Hawaii
Kailua is an unincorporated city (Census Designated Place) in Hawaiʻi County, Hawaii, United States, in the North Kona District of the Island of Hawaiʻi. The population was 11,975 at the 2010 census, up from 9,870 at the 2000 census. It is the center of commerce and of the tourist industry on West Hawaiʻi. Its post office is designated Kailua-Kona to differentiate it from Kailua located on the windward side of Oʻahu island, and it is sometimes referred to as Kona in everyday speech. The city is served by Kona International Airport, located just to the north in the adjacent Kalaoa CDP. Kailua-Kona was the closest major settlement to the epicenter of the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake.
The community was established by King Kamehameha I to be his seat of government when he was chief of Kona before he consolidated rule of the archipelago, and it later it became the capital of the newly unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The capital later moved to Lāhainā, and then to Honolulu. Royal fishponds at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park were the hub of unified Hawaiian culture. The town later functioned as a retreat of the Hawaiian royal family. Up until the late 1900s, Kailua-Kona was primarily a small fishing village.:58 In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the region has undergone a real estate and construction boom fueled by tourism and investment.
Kailua is located at 19°39′0″N 155°59′39″W / 19.65000°N 155.99417°W / 19.65000; -155.99417 (19.649973, −155.994028), along the shoreline of Kailua Bay and up the southern slope of Hualālai volcano. There are no major rivers or streams in Kailua or on the Kona side of Hawaii.:26
According to the United States Census Bureau, the City has a total area of 39.9 square miles (103.3 km2), of which 35.6 square miles (92.3 km2) are land and 4.2 square miles (11.0 km2), or 10.67%, are water.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Kailua HI
Enrolling in the right paralegal degree program is a vital first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the comfort and privacy of your Kailua home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of private and public institutions provide paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to examine each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Kailua HI.
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