How to Select a Paralegal Program near Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Wisconsin Dells WI and begin your journey that will lead to a gratifying career in legal services. However, it’s important that you locate the right school so that you will receive the extensive training that you need to be successful. As you most likely know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more educational choices are being offered, both on campus and online. However with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students begin by trying to find schools within traveling range of their Wisconsin Dells residences. Of those alternatives, they search for the program with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are necessary considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you ought to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the school should be taken into account too. Later in this post we will review a list of concerns that you ought to ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare every one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants essentially both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and are part of a different job classification. Both paralegals and legal assistants assist Wisconsin Dells WI attorneys with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job functions are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice could assist with trial logistics or delivering documents to court. In private firms, the work of a paralegal is typically billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high level of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As stated, their duties can be varied in support of the firms where they work, but some of their daily activities might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal files, documents and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally allowed to do is give legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties 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, lawyers are able to handle a much larger volume of cases or clients than they could on their own.
Paralegal Training and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the academic prerequisites and job prospects will be the same. The quickest way to launch your career as a paralegal in Wisconsin Dells WI is by earning a certificate, which can involve just six months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more comprehensive education and can be acquired at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered as well. After you have obtained either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Wisconsin to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help establish you as a professional also. Some of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession 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 school (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Points to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational choices are offered, you can start the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Wisconsin Dells WI area, in addition to trade and vocational schools, you must learn what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is particularly true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs also. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will start by searching for schools within commuting distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other crucial issues to research as well, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are investigating so that you can properly vet each one and make your ultimate choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you enroll in should be accredited by a respected accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it may also receive accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional also. Numerous Wisconsin Dells WI law firms will only hire entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Program’s Reputation? Learn what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no previous experience, since employers will have to rely on the quality of your education exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help confirm school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact some Wisconsin Dells WI law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Keep in mind that even if a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program may still have an outstanding reputation.
Does the Program Sponsor Internships? Internship programs give students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal operation while attending school. They can also offer a means for students to begin developing contacts within the Wisconsin Dells WI legal field. Ask if the paralegal programs you are evaluating offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help available? You will probably wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Wisconsin legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Considering that laws differ from one state to another, it may be beneficial to enroll in a legal assistant school located in Wisconsin or the state where you want to work after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the local legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you wish to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to initially look at those schools that are within the Wisconsin Dells WI region.
What is the Entire Expense? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to include the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help reduce some of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wisconsin Dells WI. Naturally if you decide to attend an online program, some of these additional costs, for instance for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Match your Schedule? Numerous paralegal students keep working while obtaining their training and need flexibility in class scheduling. If you can just attend weekend or evening classes near Wisconsin Dells WI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part time basis, make certain that the program you select offers that option. Finally, inquire what the procedure is for making up missed classes as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Schools
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more prevalent and can be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes and flexible scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to individuals who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online programs can in some cases be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be reduced or eliminated. One caveat, not all internet schools are accredited, which we will address in more 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 program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and formal setting, then obtaining your degree or certificate online may be the right option for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Wisconsin Dells WI?
If you live near Wisconsin Dells 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.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells is a city in south-central Wisconsin, with a population of 2,678 people as of the 2010 census. It straddles four counties: Adams, Columbia, Juneau, and Sauk. The city takes its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the banks of the Wisconsin River. Together with the nearby village of Lake Delton, the city forms an area known as "the Dells", a popular Midwestern tourist destination.
Wisconsin Dells was founded as Kilbourn City in 1857 by Byron Kilbourn, who also founded Kilbourntown, one of the three original towns at the confluence of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers that joined to become Milwaukee. Before the establishment of Kilbourn City, the region around the dells of the Wisconsin River was primarily a lumbering area until 1851, when the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad was chartered, with Kilbourn as its president. The railroad made plans to bridge the Wisconsin River near the river's dells, and a boomtown named Newport sprang up at the expected site of the bridge in 1853. The population of this new city quickly swelled to over 2,000, but when the railroad finally came through the area in 1857 it took nearly everyone by surprise by crossing the river a mile upstream from the site of Newport. As a result, Newport was rapidly turned into a ghost town as the settlers flocked to the new city at the site of the railroad bridge, Kilbourn City. The land at the point of crossing was originally owned by Parley Eaton. Byron Kilbourn bought the land from Eaton for a reduced price as everyone expected the railroad to cross at Newport. However, Kilbourn then went to Madison and lobbied the state to allow for the railroad right-of-way to be moved to cross at the point where he owned the land and greatly increased its value. Gradually, tourism became a large part of Kilbourn City. To make it easier for tourists to identify Kilbourn City with the natural landscape for which it was famous, the name of the city was changed to Wisconsin Dells in 1931. As the twentieth century progressed, new attractions began to draw even more tourists.
Because of the scenery provided by the dells of the Wisconsin River, Kilbourn City quickly became a popular travel destination in the Midwest. In 1856, Leroy Gates began taking tourists on boat tours of the Wisconsin Dells. These tours were given using wooden rowboats until 1873 when the first steamboat, the Modocawanda, was used. In 1875, early landscape photographer H. H. Bennett established a studio in the city and took many photos of the sandstone formations in the dells, including stereoscopic views. Prints of these photographs were distributed across the United States, further enhancing the status of Kilbourn City as a destination for sightseers. Taking advantage of this, Bennett began offering to take souvenir pictures of visitors to the dells, becoming one of the first to capitalize on the area's burgeoning tourist trade. Today, the H. H. Bennett Studio is an historic site operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant College near Wisconsin Dells WI
Selecting the ideal paralegal degree program is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have discussed in this post, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Wisconsin Dells home. Paralegal training programs are made available in numerous formats and lengths. Different types of public and private institutions provide paralegal education, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a pronounced impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose carefully. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But irrespective of how you elect to obtain your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to examine each program and make your final decision. And with the right education you can achieve your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wisconsin Dells WI.
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