What is a paralegal?
A paralegal is a legal professional who works in a legal environment and may perform all of the functions of an attorney except give legal advice, accept clients, set legal fees, and present a case in court. Paralegals may work for an attorney, law office, governmental agency, private business, or other entity. Paralegals may do background work for an attorney and within an organization may perform administrative duties. They help attorneys prepare for trial by conducting research to uncover all relevant information. After analyzing all information, they may prepare a written report for use by the attorney to determine how the case should be handled and may interview clients. They may also obtain affidavits; assist lawyers during trials; and help prepare documents such as contracts, mortgages, and trust instruments. Paralegals are also known as legal assistants and may specialize in one area of law, such as real estate, estate planning, or corporate law. Paralegals generally work under the supervision of an attorney and do not provide direct legal services to the public.
What is a legal secretary?
A legal secretary may prepare, under the supervision of an attorney, initial drafts of common legal documents such as subpoenas, complaints, motions, and summonses. Legal secretaries may review law journals and assist with legal research. They may handle the payments for witness fees and process fees, record trial dates, schedule witnesses, and deliver subpoenas. Many legal secretaries work within law firms, government agencies, or corporations.
The paralegal program
The Kapi`olani CC paralegal program offers an associate in science (AS) degree and a legal secretary certificate. It is an evening program that prepares students to perform the duties of a paralegal or legal secretary. The program provides the foundation for students to think critically and act ethically in the workplace and in the community. The paralegal program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) since 1978 and is the only ABA approved, associate in science degree program in the State of Hawai`i. The approval process ensures that the program complies with the high academic standards of the ABA. ABA approval is not the same as accreditation.
The paralegal AS degree articulates to the University of Hawai`i-West Oahu toward a bachelor of arts in public administration with concentration options in general public administration or justice administration. An advisor may provide detailed information about the courses required or recommended for articulation.
The AS degree courses may transfer to Hawai`i Pacific University toward a bachelor of arts in justice administration.