How to Choose a Paralegal Studies Program near Kailua Kona Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kailua Kona HI and begin your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the right school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you most likely understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? Many prospective students start by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting range of their Kailua Kona homes. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school must be taken into account as well. Later on in this article we will cover a list of questions that you ought to 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 what a paralegal does and the academic 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 hold the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Kailua Kona HI with a diverse array of job functions, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job duties are based upon the type of practice where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice may help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their routine activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Kailua Kona HI paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more suited 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 preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The fastest means to begin your career in Kailua Kona HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you might want to proceed and receive a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. A few 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 degree or certificate from an accredited program (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Kailua Kona HI.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for students in Kailua Kona HI looking for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can often be less costly than on campus options. Even ancillary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online may be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Kailua Kona HI area schools. But since there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true when you include all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a highly regarded organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kailua Kona HI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Learn what the reputations and rankings are for the Kailua Kona HI paralegal schools you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduating and ask which schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Kailua Kona HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are reviewing provide internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary from one state to another, it might be advantageous to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. In addition, it will be important to build relationships in the area legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is even more justification to acquire your education in the area where you want to practice. 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 wish to initially look at those colleges that are within your Kailua Kona HI local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Don’t forget to include 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 don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Kailua Kona HI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Kailua Kona HI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the program you choose provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kailua Kona 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.
Select the Ideal Paralegal Degree Program near Kailua Kona HI
Enrolling in the best paralegal degree program is a crucial first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kailua Kona home. Paralegal training programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Kailua Kona HI.
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