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HCC program offers quick entry into legal careers

HCC program offers quick entry into legal careers

Hawaii Community College, in partnership with the Center for Legal Studies, will offer a quick, affordable paralegal certificate program that prepares students for paralegal and legal assistant jobs. The 84-hour live-lecture course on Saturdays and Sundays will start Oct. 13 at HCC’s Manono campus.

“Today’s new grads and job seekers are facing complex job markets that are vexed by political uncertainty. When starting new careers, workers not only need gainful employment but also the assurance that their skill sets will be in demand for years to come,” said an HCC spokesman.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for people with paralegal training is 37.8 percent higher than the national average. In addition, the job outlook for these professionals is projected to improve significantly over the next 10 years.

Paralegals don’t practice law, but they are trained to help attorneys gather evidence, do research, interview clients and witnesses and prepare legal briefs and forms. Companies and legal firms are looking to save money by hiring paralegals to perform many of the tasks that were previously assigned to licensed attorneys.

“Most people just think of paralegals working in law firms,” said Gail Stowers, a paralegal course instructor with the Center for Legal Studies. “Many of them do work in law firms, but the job market is so much broader than that.

“Students are surprised when I tell them that paralegals are employed in 47 different areas of the law and settings. Some include corporate human resources or legal departments, government agencies, banks, insurance companies, the criminal justice system, lobbying organizations and legal aid offices,” said Stowers.

“Employers can easily see the cost savings in hiring paralegals — at $30,000 to $75,000 a year — rather than attorneys — at about $200 an hour — for many legal tasks.”

Students who complete the Paralegal Certificate Course will receive their certificate from HCC, providing instant credibility in the local job market. In the spirit of “E `Imi Pono,” or Seeking Excellence, HCC has inspired personal growth and embraced the unique Hawaii Island culture for more than 70 years.

Through the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CSSE), a method in which to measure the quality of instruction and services provided to students, HCC continues to rank among the top 25 community colleges in the nation.

Founded in 1980, the Center for Legal Studies has graduated more paralegals, legal secretaries, legal investigators, mediators and legal nurse consultants than any other legal education training facility in the country.

The course will cost about $1,189, plus about $400 for books.

“The Paralegal Certificate Course is one of the quickest and most affordable paths available toward careers in the legal industry,” said Stowers. “The course teaches students how to investigate complex fact patterns, interview witnesses, research the law, prepare legal documents and help prepare cases for courtroom litigation.

“Graduates of the program can specialize in such topics as criminal law, contracts, civil rights law, and environment law, just to name a few. Job search techniques are also included in the curriculum.”

Interested persons may contact HCC at 934-2700 or the Center for Legal Studies at (800) 522-7737. Visit www.hawaii.hawaii.edu/ocet.


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