Paralegal Education in Hawaii
Hawaii’s paralegal field is modest but blooming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state has under 800 legal assistants, but the field of the paraprofessional is stable and growing within the United States, projected to increase by 28%. This expansion is slated to create 70,000 new jobs by 2018, and the possibilities are beginning to find purchase on these Pacific islands as well. Many companies are seeking able paralegals to fill positions once traditionally relegated to an attorney and not surprisingly paralegals are rising to the challenge.
Paralegal careers can begin with simple learn-as-you-go training, which generally provides a lower salary with fewer benefits for the aspiring paralegal, but is more common in Hawaii than the mainland states. Some firms and companies that offer on-the-job training in the paralegal profession will also encourage employees in certification and education; it’s possible a few may even assist in the expenses of doing so. Inquire about possible educational opportunities during the application process or consider night classes or online courses to increase your own marketability.
Earning certification or a degree in legal studies will give paraprofessionals a keen edge in a booming market. While the state may not put forth specific requirements for a paralegal to fulfill, many potential employers have their preferences and checklists. Because of the rapidly expanding occupational field, there is almost always a selection of qualified, educated applicants from which to choose. As a result, formal and thorough knowledge is in high demand.
Certification is granted with the successful passing of one of four certification exams. Any of these exams can be taken with some regard to educational background (see the chart for prerequisites) and often dazzles potential employers with the knowledge and experience that the paralegal displays within the field. Passing any one of these tests grants the title of certified paralegal, which adds tremendously to credentials and job qualifications.
The median salary for a paralegal within the state of Hawaii is about $34,000. Although regulation has been discussed by the state on a legislative and judiciary level, it has so far been dismissed as it has been in most other states. Under Hawaii’s Professional Rule of Conduct 5.3, paralegals must work under the direct supervision of a bar-certified attorney. They cannot provide legal advice, and their supervising attorney is legally responsible for all professional actions taken by the assistant under employ.
|In USD as of Mar 4, 2013 (source: indeed.com)||25k||50k||75k|
|Paralegal in Hawaii $34,000||
While there are no established authorities regulating the paralegal profession, the American Bar Association, or ABA, which licenses, regulates and oversees attorneys, endorses learning institutions that match its arduous qualifications. Course approval from the ABA increases the credibility of the school, and as such, the paralegal. In fact, some employers will take nothing less than ABA approval; when in doubt, choose the option that encompasses all points desired by a potential employer.
ABA endorsement should not be confused with accreditation, provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Paralegal courses can be approved by the ABA, while not accredited through the Department of Education. The situation could be the opposite, or the institution could have both—or neither. Be sure to note if one type is preferred over another when applying for a paralegal position.
Kapi’olani Community College is a public institution in Honolulu that offers an Associate of Applied Sciences degree within the Paralegal Studies program. This program requires a minimum of 60 credit-hours as well as a mandatory internship at the completion of the course.
Firms of Interest
Though small in size, Hawaii has a number prestigious law firms that hire many paralegals for their long-term staff. Below are just a few of these firms:
Cades Schutte LLP with offices also in Kona, Waimea and Kahului
1000 Bishop Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Carlsmith Ball LLP
121 Waianuenue Avenue
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Other Resources for Paralegals
[qs_listing state=”HI” campustype=”both” areaofinterest=”CRIMINAL-JUSTICE-LEGAL-SAFETY”]