How to Pick a Paralegal School near Hilo Hawaii
Best Wishes regarding your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Hilo HI and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will get the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students begin by looking for paralegal schools within commuting range of their Hilo homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things like accreditation and the reputation of the program ought to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will cover a list of concerns that you should ask potential paralegal certificate schools so that you can examine and compare each one before making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives 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 fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job category. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist attorneys in Hilo HI with a diverse array 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 legal firm where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with the logistics of a trial or transferring files to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the attorney’s. And just like lawyers, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the practices where they work, but a few of their everyday activities may include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Preparing correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a Hilo HI paralegal can be complicated and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally permitted to do is give legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to manage a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are basically the same as legal assistants, with paralegals possibly having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest means to launch your career in Hilo HI as a paralegal is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. When you have acquired either a degree or a certificate, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a legal requirement in Hawaii to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your career opportunities, but help establish you as a professional as well. 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 degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will cover the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two essential first steps that will help ensure your success as a paralegal in Hilo HI.
Online Paralegal Schools
Online paralegal programs have become more popular and may be a good alternative for individuals in Hilo HI searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online schools can be particularly attractive to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less costly than on campus options. Even secondary expenditures for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will cover in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a reputable organization, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your certificate or degree online may be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what training choices are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Hilo HI area schools. But considering that there are numerous programs accessible at community and junior colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask in order to compare each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical factors to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the schools you are researching so that you can properly vet each one and make your final decision.
Is the Paralegal Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable accrediting agency 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 targets distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will obtain will be of the highest standard, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Hilo HI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Research what the rankings and reputations are for the Hilo HI paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the profession with no previous work history, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Confirming that the program you select is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also call some law practices 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 Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin developing contacts within the Hilo HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that initial job in a new field can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable networks and great relationships with Hawaii legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
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 work after graduation. In addition, it will be important to cultivate relationships in the area legal community, possibly through an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you wish to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may wish to initially investigate those colleges that are within your Hilo HI local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only expense for your education. Don’t forget to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial assistance may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Hilo HI. Of course if you opt to attend an online program, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while getting their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend night or weekend classes near Hilo HI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you enroll in makes available that option. Last, ask what the procedure is for making up classes missed as a result of work, illness or family obligations.
Considering Paralegal School in Hilo HI?
Hilo (/ˈhiːloʊ/) is the largest settlement and census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States, which encompasses the Island of Hawaiʻi. The population was 43,263 at the 2010 census.
Hilo is the county seat of the County of Hawaiʻi and is located in the District of South Hilo. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, at the base of two shield volcanoes; Mauna Loa, an active volcano, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and the site of some of the world's most important ground-based astronomical observatories. Much of the city is at some risk from lava flows from Mauna Loa. The majority of human settlement in Hilo stretches from Hilo Bay to Waiākea-Uka, on the flanks of Mauna Loa.
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, as well as the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula which takes place annually after Easter. Hilo is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia nuts. The town is served by Hilo International Airport.
Around 1100 AD, the first Hilo inhabitants arrived, bringing with them Polynesian knowledge and traditions. Although archaeological evidence is scant, oral history has many references to people living in Hilo, along the Wailuku and Wailoa rivers during the time of ancient Hawaii. Oral history also gives the meaning of Hilo as "to twist".
Select the Ideal Paralegal Certificate Program near Hilo HI
Choosing the ideal paralegal educational program is an essential first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the privacy and comfort of your Hilo residence. Paralegal academic programs are provided in various formats and lengths. Various types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four year universities and colleges, in addition to vocational and trade schools. Your choice of a paralegal school will have a pronounced influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this rewarding profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your education and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to evaluate each program and make your final decision. And with the right training you can accomplish your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Hilo HI.
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