How to Select a Paralegal Training Program near Kealakekua Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Kealakekua HI and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s important that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. However with so many options to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within traveling range of their Kealakekua homes. Of those choices, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you must consider. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be considered as well. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one before making your decision. But before we do, let’s have 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 basically both hold comparable job roles and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Kealakekua HI with a diverse array of job functions, such as legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a Kealakekua HI paralegal can be complex and rather demanding. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not confined to clerical or administrative functions more apropos 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 are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could otherwise.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Kealakekua HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be obtained at numerous community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to continue 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 employment opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. Some of the highly regarded certifying agencies 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 cover the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kealakekua HI.
Online Paralegal Degrees
Online paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent option for individuals in Kealakekua HI looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online classes can often be less expensive than more traditional options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will address in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a respected organization, for instance 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 may be the ideal option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational choices are available, you can start the process of assessing Kealakekua HI area schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial issues to research as well, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at some of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final selection.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Kealakekua HI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Kealakekua HI paralegal programs you are contemplating. This is of specific 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 education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even if a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also present a means for students to begin creating contacts within the Kealakekua HI legal community. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Ask 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 indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be a good idea to select a paralegal school located in the state where you want to practice after graduation. Also, it will be valuable to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might need to first investigate those schools that are within your Kealakekua HI local area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the length of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance might be obtainable to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Kealakekua HI. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, a portion these added expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Kealakekua HI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make sure that the program you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kealakekua HI?
Kealakekua is located on the west side of the island of Hawaii at 19°31′35″N 155°55′22″W / 19.52639°N 155.92278°W / 19.52639; -155.92278 (19.526436, -155.922891). It is bordered to the north by Honalo and to the south by Captain Cook. Hawaii Route 11 is the main road through the community, leading north 10 miles (16 km) to Kailua-Kona and south 49 miles (79 km) to Naalehu.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,645 people, 639 households, and 423 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 218.1 people per square mile (84.2/km²). There were 692 housing units at an average density of 91.7 per square mile (35.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 24.74% White, 0.73% African American, 0.67% Native American, 36.84% Asian, 7.23% Pacific Islander, 2.07% from other races, and 27.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.18% of the population.
There were 639 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 26.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.2 males.
Choose the Right Paralegal College near Kealakekua HI
Choosing the best paralegal educational program is a vital first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Kealakekua residence. Paralegal academic programs are made available in many lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible opportunity to be successful in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate education you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Kealakekua HI.
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