How to Pick a Paralegal Training Program near Mililani Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Mililani HI and begin your journey that will lead to a satisfying profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the right 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 academic choices are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students begin by trying to find paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Mililani residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into consideration also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both hold the same job positions and functions, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants help attorneys in Mililani HI with a wide variety of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed hourly as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and abide by a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their day-to-day activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on pertinent laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and preserving legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Mililani HI paralegal can be complicated and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to start your career in Mililani HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more extensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. Once you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help improve your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations 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 school (we will discuss the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Mililani HI.
Paralegal Online Degrees
Paralegal online schools have become more prevalent and may be a good alternative for those in Mililani HI looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online classes can in some cases be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such items as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training choices are offered, you can begin the process of evaluating Mililani HI area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at junior and community colleges, as well as trade and vocational 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 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 critical factors to research 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 programs you are researching so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate decision.
Is the Paralegal Training 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 can also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. Many Mililani HI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that are graduates of an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually offered only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the Mililani HI paralegal programs you are looking at. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the caliber of your education exclusively. Verifying that the program you pick is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing 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 contact several law firms 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 among the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a pathway for students to start creating contacts within the Mililani HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid 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 highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Since laws vary among states, it may be advantageous to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be valuable to build relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you want 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 might want to initially investigate those schools that are within your Mililani HI local region.
What is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in price based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be accessible to help offset some of the cost, so don’t forget to talk to the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Mililani HI. Of course if you choose to attend an online program, some of these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Mililani HI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the program you enroll in makes available that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Mililani HI?
Mililani is a city located near the center of the island of Oʻahu in Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States. It consists of two census-designated places, Mililani Town, with a population of 27,629 at the 2010 census, and Mililani Mauka, with a 2010 census population of 21,039.
Mililani sits on former plantation fields owned by Castle & Cooke, which began planning for its development in the early 1960s under its Oceanic Properties subsidiary. Castle & Cooke's plan was to make Mililani Town a satellite city by using a prestigious group of planners and architects to satisfy Oahu's great pent-up demand for housing with a sensitively designed, affordable new community of a type unique in Hawaii. Architect and developer Al Boeke, who would later create the planned community of Sea Ranch, California, was the development director of Mililani. The first homes in Mililani went on sale on June 3, 1968.
In 1976, the Interstate H-2 opened, cutting travel time from Mililani to Honolulu in half. In 1986, Mililani was named an All-America City. It is the only community in Hawaii ever to receive this distinction. Mililani is the third wealthiest zip code (96789) in the state of Hawaii, according to the 2006 ranking by Pacific Business News.
Although it is largely a bedroom community for Honolulu, Mililani has its own commercial shopping centers, schools (such as Mililani High School), parks, community centers, and a golf course, and resembles a modern American suburban town. Mililani homeowners must pay dues to the Mililani Town Association, which enforces covenants and design standards, and provides recreational facilities including several pools.
Enroll in the Ideal Paralegal School near Mililani HI
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Mililani home. Paralegal academic programs are provided in many formats and lengths. Various kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, choose carefully. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this rewarding profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will be able to assess each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can achieve your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Mililani HI.
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