How to Find a Paralegal Studies Program near Williams Bay Wisconsin
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Williams Bay WI and begin your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s crucial that you locate the ideal school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic alternatives are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? A number of prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Williams Bay homes. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when selecting a school, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school must be taken into account also. Later on in this post we will review a list of concerns that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your selection. But before we do, let’s have a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Paralegals and legal assistants basically both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, just with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a different job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Williams Bay WI lawyers with a diverse array of job functions, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are relevant to the type of legal firm where they work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And the same as attorneys, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the firms where they are employed, but some of their regular tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching applicable cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal papers
- Filing legal papers with the court or opposing counsel
- Helping attorneys prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the job of a paralegal can be complex and quite challenging. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not confined to administrative or clerical tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals truly are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys are able to manage a much larger volume of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals perhaps having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Williams Bay WI is by earning a certificate, which can take just six months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at many community colleges in two years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option also. After you have acquired either a certificate or degree, you may want to proceed and obtain a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Wisconsin to work as a paralegal, certification may not only help boost your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly respected certifying agencies in the field are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal certificate or degree from an accredited program (we will address the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
What to Ask Paralegal Studies Programs
Now that you have a better understanding regarding what paralegals do and what academic choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Williams Bay WI area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you must find out what questions to ask so that you can compare each one. This is especially true when you include all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs also. If you are like most potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other critical aspects to research as well, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over some of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can thoroughly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a recognized organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will establish with potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. A number of Williams Bay WI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited program. Finally, financial aid and student loans are usually obtainable only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also call several Williams Bay WI law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not among the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law practice or other legal enterprise while attending school. They can also present a means for students to begin establishing contacts within the Williams Bay WI legal community. Ask if the paralegal programs you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new field can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and great relationships with Wisconsin legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the Campus Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be a good idea to choose a paralegal school domiciled in Wisconsin or the state where you want to work after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to cultivate relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more reason to receive your education in the area where you choose to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Williams Bay WI area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in cost based on the credential obtained and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance may be accessible to help reduce part of the expense, so make sure to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Williams Bay WI. Of course if you choose to attend an online school, some of these supplementary expenses, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Numerous legal students continue working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Williams Bay WI, make certain classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make certain that the school you enroll in provides that option. Finally, inquire what the process is for making up missed classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Schools
Paralegal and legal assistant online schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly attractive to students who keep working while earning a degree. As an additional benefit, online schools can in some cases be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as study materials or commuting can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the school and program you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to attend classes in a less structured and conventional setting, then obtaining your certificate or degree online could be the ideal option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Williams Bay WI?
If you live near Williams Bay WI or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Williams Bay, Wisconsin
Williams Bay is one of three municipalities on Geneva Lake. It was named for Captain Israel Williams of Massachusetts, a War of 1812 infantry captain who, with several of his sons, settled in the area in 1835. Much of the surrounding area was settled in the early 19th century by surveyors plotting roadways from the East. It was a vacation spot for wealthy Chicagoans displaced by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
It is probably best known internationally for being home to the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, which houses the world's largest refracting (lens) telescope, the great 40-inch. Construction of the Observatory began in 1895 and the 40-inch saw first light in May 1897. The Observatory's first Director was George Ellery Hale, who went on to establish Mount Wilson Observatory in Southern California.
Officials and students of Chicago-based George Williams College frequently met just west of the town of Williams Bay and later established a camp in the village on the shores of Geneva Lake. George Williams College folded in 1985 and is now part of Aurora University, which today maintains the campus.
Find the Best Legal Assistant College near Williams Bay WI
Enrolling in the right paralegal training program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the option of attending classes at school or you can participate online in the privacy and comfort of your Williams Bay residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Different types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your opportunities for success in your new career. Given that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you decide to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Williams Bay WI.
Other Wisconsin Locations That May Be Of Interest
Business Results 1 - 10 of 20