How to Find a Paralegal Degree Program near Kihei Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kihei HI and start your journey that will lead to a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of educational choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Kihei homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the program ought to be taken into consideration too. Later in this article we will review a list of questions that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the academic 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 essentially both hold comparable job roles and functions, just 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 help lawyers in Kihei HI with a diverse array of job duties, such as legal research, maintaining client files, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are based upon the type of legal firm where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transporting files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As noted, their responsibilities can be wide ranging in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities can include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Kihei HI paralegal can be complex and very demanding. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not limited to administrative or clerical duties more apropos to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. 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 on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, 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 fastest means to launch your career in Kihei HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may involve just 6 months to accomplish. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are available as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose 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 improve your employment opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Kihei HI.
Online Paralegal Classes
Paralegal online programs have become more prevalent and can be a good alternative for students in Kihei HI searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to students who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online programs can often be less costly than on campus options. Even supplementary 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 more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a reputable organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional environment, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Schools
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the process of assessing Kihei HI area schools. But because there are so many programs offered at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like many prospective students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other critical aspects to consider also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the schools 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 program and school that you choose need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also receive 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 get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Kihei HI law firms will only hire entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are often obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Investigate what the rankings and reputations are for the Kihei HI paralegal programs you are contemplating. 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 education exclusively. Verifying that the school you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those provided 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. Keep in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while remaining in school. They can also present a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Kihei HI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will probably want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing 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 great 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 vary among states, it may be a good idea to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to practice after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to create relationships in the area legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge a higher tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to initially consider those schools that are within your Kihei HI local area.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost depending on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help reduce part of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is offered in Kihei HI. Needless to say that if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these additional costs, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate 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 Kihei HI, make certain classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the program you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kihei HI?
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 11.7 square miles (30.2 km2), of which 9.3 square miles (24.0 km2) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), or 20.44%, is water. It is considered to be the South Side of Maui, located on the leeward side of Haleakala. The climate is arid, receiving no more than 10 inches (250 mm) of rain per year.
Although its official city designation is Wailuku, the Kīhei Junction Park and Ride lot is a frequently-used commuter parking lot at the corner of highway 310 (North Kihei Road) and highway 30 (Honoapi'ilani Highway) at coordinates 20.8099479,-156.51417 There is no public bus service that stops here; however, it is located near Ma 'alaea Harbor Village, where there is a public transportation stop. It's primarily used for hikers, bicyclists and ride sharers looking for a meeting place that is centrally located between Kīhei, Lahaina and Wailuku. There's no charge to park; the lot is unattended.
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,749 people, 6,170 households, and 3,813 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,648.6 people per square mile (636.5/km2). There were 9,170 housing units at an average density of 902.6 per square mile (348.5/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 47.76% White, 6.74% African American, 0.48% Native American, 24.72% Asian, 7.85% Pacific Islander, 1.58% from other races, and 16.87% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.52% of the population.
There were 6,170 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 25.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.31.
Enroll in the Best Paralegal Training near Kihei HI
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational 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 option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Kihei residence. Paralegal training programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational and trade schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you choose to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the right training you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Kihei HI.
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