How to Select a Paralegal Degree Program near Laie Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Laie HI and start your journey that will result in a gratifying career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and a growing number of academic options are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by searching for paralegal schools within driving range of their Laie residences. Of those alternatives, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school ought to be taken into account also. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you need to ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your decision. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic options that are offered 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 functions, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Laie HI with a wide variety of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm might help with the logistics of a trial or transporting documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And the same as attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their routine tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable 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 managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a Laie HI paralegal can be complicated and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is offer legal advice and counsel 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 really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number 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 possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career in Laie HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may require just 6 months to accomplish. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and can be earned at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. When you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and get a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to practice as a paralegal, certification may not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Laie HI.
Online Paralegal Schools
Paralegal online programs have become more available and may be an excellent alternative for students in Laie HI looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caveat, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less structured and formal setting, then earning your certificate or degree online might be the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the process of assessing Laie HI area schools. But since there are numerous programs available at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you need to learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by looking for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other important issues to research 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 schools you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you pick need to be accredited by a respected organization 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 focuses on online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Laie HI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited programs.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Laie HI paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you pick is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact a few law practices that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Remember that even when a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law office or other legal operation while remaining in school. They can also provide a means for students to start creating contacts within the Laie HI legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance available? You will undoubtedly wish to secure employment quickly after graduation, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also confirms that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws differ among states, it might be advantageous to enroll in a paralegal school located in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to build relationships in the local legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to obtain your education in the area where you choose to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may want to first consider those colleges that are within your Laie HI local region.
How Much is the Entire Cost? Paralegal schools can differ in cost depending on the credential obtained and the amount of training furnished. 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 may be available to help offset some of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Laie HI. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these additional expenses, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Accommodate your Schedule? A number of paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Laie HI, verify classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making up missed classes due to work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Laie HI?
Laie is a census-designated place (CDP) located in the Koolauloa District on the island of Oahu in Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States. In Hawaiian, lāʻie means "ʻie leaf" (ʻieʻie is a climbing screwpine: Freycinetia arborea). The population was 6,138 at the 2010 census.
Historically, Laie was a puʻuhonua, a sanctuary for fugitives. While a fugitive was in the pu'uhonua, it was unlawful for that fugitive's pursuers to harm him or her. During wartime, spears with white flags attached were set up at each end of the city of refuge. If warriors attempted to pursue fugitives into the puʻuhonua, they would be killed by sanctuary priests. Fugitives seeking sanctuary in a city of refuge were not forced to permanently live within the confines of its walls. Instead, they were given two choices. In some cases, after a certain length of time (ranging from a couple of weeks to several years), fugitives could enter the service of the priests and assist in the daily affairs of the puʻuhonua. A second option was that after a certain length of time the fugitives would be free to leave and re-enter the world unmolested. Traditional cities of refuge were abolished in 1819.
The history of Laie began long before European contact. The name Laie is said to derive from two Hawaiian words: lau meaning "leaf", and ie referring to the ʻieʻie (red-spiked climbing screwpine, Freycinetia arborea), which wreaths forest trees of the uplands or mauka regions of the mountains of the Koʻolau Range behind the community of Laie. In Hawaiian mythology, this red-spiked climbing screwpine is sacred to Kane, god of the earth, god of life, and god of the forests, as well as to Laka, the patron goddess of the hula.
The name Laie becomes more environmentally significant through the Hawaiian oral history (kaʻao ) entitled Laieikawai. In this history, the term ikawai, which means "in the water", also belongs to the food-producing tree called kalalaikawa. The kalalaikawa tree was planted in a place called Paliula's garden, which is closely associated with the spiritual home, after her birth and relocation of Laieikawai. According to Hawaiian oral traditions, the planting of the kalalaikawa tree in the garden of Paliula is symbolic of the reproductive energy of male and female, which union in turns fills the land with offspring. From its close association with nature through its name, and through its oral traditions and history, the community of Laie takes upon itself a precise identification and a responsibility in perpetuating life and in preserving all life forms. Sometimes the land itself provided sanctuary for the Hawaiian people. Laie was such a place. The earliest information about Laie states that it was a small, sparsely populated village with a major distinction: "it was a city of refuge". Within this city of refuge were located at least two heiau, traditional Hawaiian temples, of which very little remains today. Moohekili heiau was destroyed, but its remains can be found in taro patches makai (seaward) of the LDS Church's Laie Hawaii Temple. Towards the mountain (mauka), the remains of Nioi heiau can be found on a small ridge. All that is left of Nioi is a coral platform.
Choose the Right Paralegal Training near Laie HI
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree 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 Laie home. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal education, including community colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as vocational and trade 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 broad range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible chance to be successful in this fascinating profession. But no matter how you decide to acquire your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the ideal training you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Laie HI.
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