Hawaii has a limited number of positions open for a paralegal. The entire area has less than 1,000 positions available. The paralegals who want to work in Hawaii will have to be extremely competitive and gain all the education they can to differentiate themselves from the competition.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, all paralegals have some kind of advanced degree whether it’s an associate’s degree in paralegal studies or a degree in another field plus a certification.
The paralegal who wants to be competitive and secure prime jobs in the state of Hawaii will want to receive either a Registered Paralegal or RP, which means passing the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s program. It’s called the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam. They’ll test office administration, legal and factual writing as well as legal and factual research.
The other certification is called the Certified Registered Paralegal or CRP, which is administered by the same organization. The candidate has to pass the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam. It tests the candidate on substantive areas of law.
As of 2016, there is no requirement that paralegals have an advanced degree, but legislation is being argued that could change that in the future. Anyone who is considering a career as a paralegal should secure their degree and training in case it’s required in the future. While it’s not a requirement presently, to be competitive in Hawaii’s job market, many candidates are securing further education.
The paralegal is required to know how to gather facts and evidence for a case. They work closely with the lawyer and other legal assistants to gather documents for a case. They’ll conduct research on relevant laws and regulations. They arrange documents and evidence with the attorney. They can often write summaries and reports for the lawyer to use in court.
Along with the preparation before a case is brought to trial, the paralegal will help the attorney during the trial by taking notes, handling exhibits of evidence, calling clients and scheduling for the attorney. Paralegals can work with trial attorneys or corporate lawyers who don’t see any litigation. Like attorneys, paralegals can specialize in certain areas of the law like personal injury, criminal law or bankruptcy.
There are two schools that have paralegal programs in Hawaii. One of those schools is Heald College in Honolulu, which provides an A. A. S. in Paralegal Studies. After graduation, the student can gain employment as a paralegal. This program is not approved by the bar association.
Kapi’olani Community College provides students with an A. S. in Paralegal Studies after completion. It’s an accredited institution withe the American Bar Association.
There are also online programs that students can receive their degree that are approved by the American Bar Association or ABA. Kaplan University teaches legal studies as well as environmental policy. They have electives in civil litigation, criminal law and bankruptcy. Keiser University offers an Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies. They’ll cover document drafting as well as case management and evidence gathering.
Paralegal Job Outlook
The job outlook for the entirety of the paralegal profession will grow by 8 percent according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. In the future, law firms are expected to hire less legal secretaries and legal assistants. Paralegals will find themselves taking on the role of secretary and other legal support roles.
An increased demand will come from law firms trying to reduce costs. Instead of hiring entry-level attorneys, law firms will turn to paralegals to fulfill those needs.
The median salary for a paralegal was $48,350 in 2014. In Hawaii, paralegals had an annual mean wage of $44,500 – $50,130.