A paralegal in Hawaii works with legal professionals in a legal environment. Generally, the paralegal will typically work directly for a lawyer or attorney and carry out various important duties on behalf of their employer. A paralegal in Hawaii may deal with a lot of legal issues, but they cannot give legal advice as they are not lawyers.
The profession offers a lot of career opportunities and a path toward many other types of work should a paralegal choose to seek something else within the legal field. For these and other reasons, the paralegal profession looks promising and rewarding to those who want to gain an understanding of how to become a paralegal in Hawaii.
The path toward becoming a paralegal in Hawaii requires adherence to the paralegal requirements in Hawaii. As a paralegal, it is possible to move within the field into specializations, public work, and private assignments as well. However, when it comes to how to become a paralegal in Hawaii, applicants should know what the entirety of the process entails.
This is important as the Hawaii paralegal requirements can differ from the paralegal requirements in other states. For that reason, applicants should show care and make sure they are looking at paralegal requirements in Hawaii specifically, not general paralegal requirements that may not work in this state.
What Type of Education Will do I Need to Become a Paralegal in Hawaii?
One of the main differences when it comes to how to become a paralegal in Hawaii in comparison to other states is that Hawaii does not have specific credentials for becoming a paralegal. This means it is up to the applicant to put in the work to make sure they have the best chance of working in the field.
So, even though the paralegal requirements in Hawaii are not strict, it is still a good idea for applicants to look for the best education available before entering the field. Standing out by earning a certificate or degree helps applicants look more desirable to potential employers. Education also helps applicants to demand a higher starting salary than they would otherwise receive.
Becoming a paralegal in Hawaii starts with education. While it is true that Hawaii’s lack of official credentialing means it is possible for an applicant to simply apply for a paralegal position and hope for the best. However, an attorney, lawyer, or law firm will absolutely want an applicant to have either education or experience, and preferably both, if possible. In addition, advancing within the field or doing more within it will require an education.
There are a few different types of paralegal education paths available in Hawaii. Some of those options include:
- Paralegal certification programs
- Paralegal degree programs
- Legal secretary certification programs
- Legal education degree programs
Each of these paths offer something that can help someone achieve their goals of becoming a paralegal in Hawaii, and which path someone takes may depend on several different factors. These programs exist online as well as in traditional classroom settings. For those seeking online paralegal programs in Hawaii, it is possible to find reputable ones using the same criteria used to seek out other types of certification or degree programs.
No matter what type of program an applicant has an interest in, it is important they look for ABA-approved paralegal programs in Hawaii. Since there are not any specific types of criteria for becoming a paralegal in Hawaii, knowing what the law firms and attorneys want in a paralegal goes a long way.
To that end, ABA-approved paralegal programs in Hawaii have the vetting of the American Bar Association and graduates of these programs are looked on favorably by the larger law firms in Hawaii. This also applies to online paralegal programs in Hawaii. The ABA stamp of approval means the graduate of the program will have the skills and knowledge that attorneys look for.
Some certification programs require applicants to already have a bachelor’s degree to participate in the program. Some others do not have such a requirement. In some cases, a degree program will have a certification process as part of the class, so applicants can gain both their degree and their paralegal certification in Hawaii.
What Does Paralegal Education in Hawaii Include?
Paralegal education in Hawaii focuses on the key things someone would need to work with an attorney in the field of law. To that end, most paralegal education in Hawaii will consist of a curriculum that includes:
- Legal research
- Business communication
- Legal ethics
- The US legal system
- Introduction to law or legal studies
- English composition and legal writing
- Computer science or literacy
In addition, students will learn the basics of various types of law and legal specialties. In cases where students can choose electives, taking on types of legal specialty classes can help position them as ideal candidates for certain types of law firms.
While there are some universal duties shared by paralegals, those duties can change a great deal between different types of law practices. For example, a criminal law paralegal and an immigration law paralegal will have different duties, although they both require the same baseline skillset. Specializing is also an ideal way to find more lucrative jobs or career paths as a paralegal in Hawaii.
What Is It That Paralegals in Hawaii Must Learn to Do?
The role of the paralegal is an incredibly important one. As the main support of a lawyer or attorney, a paralegal takes on several different tasks to facilitate the needs of their employer’s cases. That facilitation will take on the form of advanced administrative work.
Some of the core duties of a paralegal include an investigation into a particular case, which means they may spend time gathering, parsing, and collating facts. A paralegal may also have to do high level research into court cases, laws, and other legal paperwork.
Paralegals in Hawaii will also perform clerical duties, such as organizing paperwork, filing electronic documentation, and pulling relevant information to help an attorney with a case. Sometimes, the paralegal will have an assistant to help with a lot of that work, which is why there are also an entry-level paralegal and assistant paralegal positions available in many places.
The education of paralegals will focus on those aspects of the profession that will help best with not just doing the typical duties, but understanding what it all means. For example, legal writing is different from other types of writing, and reading legal documents is not like reading other types of documents.
In addition, understanding the documentation is not enough. The paralegal must know how those reports, writs, court decisions, and other types of correspondence apply to a case. If the paralegal needs to summarize something for their attorney, they must know how best to do it and what information is the most relevant.
Paralegals in Hawaii must also sometimes speak to people directly on behalf of their employers. This is why there is a focus on communication in most paralegal curriculums.
The paralegal may need to speak to clients, other lawyers, witnesses, or other people in the legal field. Having knowledge of the software used in the industry and knowing how to navigate the software used specifically by their employer means a paralegal needs a certain level of technical proficiency.
The legal field comes with a heavy reliance on both traditional paper records as well as a heavy reliance on doing things digitally. Learning the ins and outs of these computer systems, databases, and software can become an important aspect of the paralegal’s routine duties.
One of the reasons why it can help to take on some specialization while in a paralegal or legal secretary program comes from the fact that specialization can often help an applicant gain an advantage over other applicants.
Is Specialization Necessary for a Paralegal in Hawaii?
Specialization helps a paralegal to navigate the unique situations and circumstances associated with different types of law. An applicant would do well to see what types of legal specialties have the most demand or are on the rise. For example, healthcare and healthcare related legalities have grown over time.
This means there is a demand for paralegals with some knowledge of healthcare law. If the state or a county in the state starts running a novel criminal justice program, then attorneys will need criminal law paralegals to help them.
Do Paralegals in Hawaii Need Certification or Licensure?
Paralegal certification in Hawaii takes the form of certifications earned by completing a paralegal course, and sometimes while obtaining a paralegal or legal secretary degree. Hawaii paralegal certification is not necessary to become a paralegal, but it helps a great deal.
In addition, a certification program that leans toward the certification process required of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) can put an applicant a step ahead. With a NALA certificate, the Hawaii paralegal certification will also work as a national certificate.
This type of certificate looks a lot better to a law firm, especially a larger one. The NALA certification also allows a paralegal to use the Certified Paralegal (CP), which is a nationally recognized designation.
Some other national organizations that offer recognized paralegal certifications include:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS)
Many programs may offer one of these certification types as the goal of the program. A program that offers a national paralegal certification in Hawaii while also having ABA accreditation is a program well worth participating in for anyone who wants to become a paralegal professional in the state.
Paralegal certification Hawaii online options will work in the same way. An online program can also teach toward a national certification while also having that ABA accreditation.
As there are no licensing requirements for paralegals in Hawaii, there is no need for applicants to seek out a Hawaii paralegal license. Instead, applicants should find those credentials that will give them more opportunities. Hawaii paralegal certification can help
What is the Job Market and Salary Possibilities Like for Paralegals in Hawaii?
There is a healthy demand for paralegal jobs in Hawaii. This matches the national demand for paralegals as national growth outlooks have a faster than average designation according to the BLS.
Hawaii paralegal jobs available often look for someone with a specialty, but both the public and private realms look for paralegals and legal secretaries of all experience and education levels. Many law firms, especially the larger ones, even offer on-the-job training which can help someone learn a specialty without having to take on more formal education to do so.
Hawaii paralegal salary can vary quite a bit depending on several factors. Some of the more common factors affecting Hawaii paralegal salary include location, specialty, demand, employer, level of education, and credentials.
Law firms will sometimes take on inexperienced applicants for entry level paralegal jobs in Hawaii, but they tend to prefer educated paralegals who have certification or a degree to show they have the specialized legal knowledge necessary to begin helping the attorney or firm immediately.
The median pay for paralegals nationwide, according to the BLS, sits at $52.9k. Indeed shows the average pay for paralegals in Honolulu as $45.4, but also shows that some employers pay upwards of $74k for the same position. However, a switch to corporate paralegal shows an average pay of $68.7k and some employers paying up to $119.7k.
A paralegal with a specialty can usually make more money based on their title. For example, a litigation paralegal or trust and estate paralegal will usually make more than someone who has the base title of a paralegal. Title matters and credentials can increase the ability of a paralegal to claim a title beyond just that of a paralegal or legal assistant.
Hawaii paralegal jobs will continue to have a growing outlook, so it is a good time for those interested in the profession to start their journey towards becoming a paralegal in Hawaii. For those who may want to work as a paralegal outside the state at some point, earning a national certificate will go a long way toward easing the transition.
For those who know they will live, work, and stay in Hawaii as a paralegal, the national credential can still help them stand out in a crowd. Most paralegals in Hawaii work in or around Honolulu. Some applicants may find this means opportunities exist in other, lesser served areas.
As there is always a demand for lawyers and attorneys, the demand for paralegals and legal secretaries will always exist. With the right education and attention to goals, a paralegal graduate in Hawaii can do a lot with their certificate or degree.