How to Find a Paralegal College near Puunene Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Puunene HI and begin your journey that will result in a rewarding career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s essential that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both at school and online. However with numerous options to choose from, where does one begin? Some prospective students start by looking for paralegal schools within driving distance of their Puunene homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you should consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into consideration as well. Later on in this article we will review a list of concerns that you must ask prospective paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your choice. But first, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the academic alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
What is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same 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 separate job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Puunene HI with a wide variety of job duties, including legal research, maintaining client files, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of legal firm 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 files to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is normally billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday tasks can include:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Submitting legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping lawyers get ready for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the job of a Puunene HI paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is provide legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not restricted to administrative or clerical duties 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 ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career in Puunene HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which may take as little as 6 months to complete. A large number of entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained 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. After you have obtained either a degree or a certificate, you might want to continue and get a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected 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 address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 crucial initial steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Puunene HI.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal schools have become more prevalent and may be an excellent alternative for individuals in Puunene HI looking for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially appealing to those who continue to work while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online classes can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such things as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet 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 school and program you are looking into are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing Puunene HI area schools. But considering that there are so many programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to think about as well, 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 considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you choose should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Puunene HI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited program. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the Puunene HI paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of special 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 school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating services, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students an opportunity to experience working in a law practice or other legal operation while still in school. They can also provide an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Puunene HI legal field. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering provide internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably want to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Find out if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good indication that the schools have sizable networks and good relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also substantiates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws vary from one state to another, it may be beneficial to choose a paralegal school located in the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be valuable to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 may wish to initially look at those schools that are within your Puunene HI local region.
How Much is the Total Cost? Paralegal schools can vary in cost based on the credential received and the length of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be available to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out what is available in Puunene HI. Of course if you opt to attend an online school, a portion these added costs, for instance for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can only attend weekend or evening classes near Puunene HI, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select provides that option. Last, ask what the process is for making-up classes missed due to sickness, work or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Puunene HI?
Puʻunēnē is an unincorporated community in the central part of Maui, Hawaii, near Kahului. Although the land in that area is fairly level, the words Puʻu nēnē mean "nene goose hill" in Hawaiian. With a population of around 50, Puʻunēnē's primary industry is growing, harvesting and processing sugarcane.
The nonprofit Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum is housed in the former residence of the superintendent of Puʻunēnē Sugar Mill, which the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (a division of Alexander & Baldwin) has operated across the street since 1901. Its mission is "to preserve and present the history and heritage of Hawaii's sugar industry, and the multi-ethnic plantation life which it engendered." Also located in Puʻunēnē is the Puʻunēnē School, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Puʻunēnē's Zip code is 96784. The mill is located at 20°52′3″N 156°27′16″W / 20.86750°N 156.45444°W / 20.86750; -156.45444Coordinates: 20°52′3″N 156°27′16″W / 20.86750°N 156.45444°W / 20.86750; -156.45444, just east of Mokulele Highway, Hawaii Route 311.
About three miles to the south of Puʻunēnē is the site of a former Naval Air Station (1940–1947),20°48′59″N 156°27′38″W / 20.81639°N 156.46056°W / 20.81639; -156.46056. An old runway is now used as a drag strip for Maui Raceway Park.
Select the Right Paralegal Certificate Program near Puunene HI
Choosing the right paralegal training program is a vital first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Puunene home. Paralegal training programs are made available in various formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to be successful in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final selection. And with the ideal education you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Puunene HI.
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