How to Find a Paralegal Program near Kahului Hawaii
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Kahului HI and start your journey that will result in a rewarding profession in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to achieve success. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational alternatives are being offered, both on campus and online. However with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some potential students start by searching for paralegal schools within commuting distance of their Kahului residences. Of those alternatives, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are prime considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you should take into consideration. Things like the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review 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 before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the instructional 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 the same job positions and functions, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in Kahului HI with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, drafting legal documents and communicating with clients. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or transferring files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is typically billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must conduct themselves with a high level of professionalism and comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks might involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent laws and cases
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys 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 Kahului HI paralegal can be complex and very challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not restricted to administrative or clerical functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers are able to manage a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are basically 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 fastest means to start your career in Kahului HI as a paralegal is by obtaining a certificate, which can involve as little as six months to complete. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. Once you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and earn a certification. Although 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 as well. Some of the highly respected 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken two important first steps that will help guarantee your success as a paralegal in Kahului HI.
Paralegal Online Classes
Paralegal online schools have become more available and may be an excellent option for individuals in Kahului HI looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to individuals who continue to work while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even secondary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will address in more detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality. So check to make sure that the school and program you are thinking about are accredited by a highly regarded organization, for example the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to attend classes in a less supervised and formal environment, then earning your degree or certificate online might be the right option for you.
Things to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can begin the undertaking of assessing Kahului HI area schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like most prospective students, you will start by looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have previously covered, there are other significant issues to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you need to be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Training Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you pick should be accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will obtain will be of the highest quality, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Numerous Kahului HI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the Kahului HI paralegal schools you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your education exclusively. Checking that the program you pick is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even if a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program could still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Offer 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 offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Kahului HI legal field. Find out if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in pursuing upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that initial job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have sizable 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 differ from one state to another, it might be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in the state where you wish to practice after graduation. Also, it will be important to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the community where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require a higher tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you may need to initially consider those schools that are within your Kahului HI local region.
What is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can vary in cost depending on the credential earned and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be obtainable to help reduce some of the cost, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Kahului HI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online school, a portion these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and need flexibility to schedule classes. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Kahului HI, verify classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Last, ask what the process is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Paralegal School in Kahului HI?
Kahului is a census-designated place (CDP) on the island of Maui in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It hosts Maui's main airport (Kahului Airport), deep-draft harbor, light industrial areas, and commercial shopping centers. The population was 26,337 at the 2010 census. Kahului is part of the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina Metropolitan Statistical Area which includes nearby Wailuku and the town and former whaling village of Lahaina.
The retail center for Maui residents, Kahului has several malls and major stores (including department stores in the Queen Kaahumanu Center); other significant groupings of stores are in Lāhainā such as the Lahaina Cannery Mall, the Happy Valley area of Wailuku, Maui Market Place and Maui Mall, which are both also located in Kahului; and The Shops at Wailea in Wailea.
Kahului is not generally considered a tourist destination. It does feature the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanaha Beach County Park, and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 16.3 square miles (42 km2), of which, 15.2 square miles (39 km2) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) of it is water. The total area is 7.16% water.
Choose the Ideal Paralegal School near Kahului HI
Enrolling in the ideal paralegal degree program is an essential first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have covered in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Kahului residence. Paralegal education programs are provided in numerous formats and lengths. Different kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal education, including community and junior colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your opportunities for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to acquire your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have furnished you will have the ability to evaluate each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career goal to become a practicing paralegal in Kahului HI.
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