How to Find a Paralegal School near Winneconne Wisconsin
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in a paralegal school near Winneconne WI and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will get the comprehensive training that you need to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more academic choices are being offered, both on campus and online. But with so many alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many prospective students start by searching for schools within commuting range of their Winneconne residences. Of those options, they try to find the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only factors you need to consider. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program should be taken into consideration also. Later in this article we will cover a list of questions that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can assess and compare each one before making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the academic choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Legal Assistants and Paralegals
Legal assistants and paralegals essentially both hold comparable job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the equivalent of either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Winneconne WI lawyers with a wide variety of job functions, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job functions are based upon the type of practice where they work. For example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could assist with the logistics of a trial or delivering files to court. In private practices, the work of a paralegal is usually billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And the same as lawyers, they must perform with a high level of professionalism and follow a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their everyday tasks might involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Researching pertinent cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and keep organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be involved and very challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is give legal advice and counsel 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. Legal assistants truly are the right hand support systems for attorneys. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, attorneys have the ability to handle a much larger number of cases or clients than they could alone.
Paralegal Education 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 opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to begin your career as a paralegal in Winneconne WI is by obtaining a certificate, which can take as little as 6 months to complete. Most entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which provide a more comprehensive education and can be obtained at many community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are offered also. When you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may want to continue and get a certification. Although it is not a mandatory requirement in Wisconsin to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help increase your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. Some of the highly respected 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 advantages of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 important initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Schools
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what educational options are available, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But since there are so many programs available at community and junior colleges in the Winneconne WI area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask so that you can evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. 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 think about also, such as accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at a few of the questions you should be asking the schools you are considering so that you can properly vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you enroll in should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it might also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. Accreditation will not only help guarantee that the education you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show future employers that you are a qualified professional also. A number of Winneconne WI law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are usually available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Investigate what the reputations and rankings are for the paralegal schools you are considering. This is of particular importance if you are new to the profession with no previous experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Checking school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Winneconne WI law offices that you may have an interest in working for after graduating and ask what schools they recommend. Remember that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide a pathway for students to begin creating contacts within the Winneconne WI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, especially in areas of the law that you are most interested in pursuing after graduation.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will most likely wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but getting that first job in a new profession can be challenging without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are reviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Wisconsin legal services employers. It also corroborates that their students are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School Located? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to choose a legal assistant school located in Wisconsin or the state where you plan to work after graduating. Also, it will be important to create relationships in the local legal community, perhaps by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to acquire your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you attend classes at a community college, many require an increased tuition for students that live outside of their districts. So you might want to first investigate those schools that are within the Winneconne WI area.
What is the Entire Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in price depending on the credential earned and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Remember to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid might be accessible to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to check with the school’s financial aid department to see what is offered in Winneconne WI. Naturally if you choose to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary expenses, such as for commuting, may be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Class Times Fit your Schedule? Many paralegal students keep working while receiving their training and must have flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Winneconne WI, verify classes are available at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose provides that option. Finally, ask what the procedure is for making up missed classes due to sickness, work or family emergencies.
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Online Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant schools have become more common and may be a good option for students searching for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be particularly appealing to those who keep working while earning a certificate or degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can sometimes be less expensive than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be minimized or eliminated. One caution, not all internet programs are accredited, which we will discuss in greater detail later. But at a minimum accreditation helps guarantee that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are considering are accredited by a highly regarded agency, for instance the American Bar Association. But if you are dedicated enough to study in a less structured and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Winneconne WI?
If you live near Winneconne 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.
Winneconne is a village in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 2,383 at the 2010 census. The village is located within the Town of Winneconne. Developed along the Wolf River, the city is in the middle of the Wolf Chain of lakes, including Poygan, Winneconne, and Butte des Morts. It is host to numerous bass fishing tournaments.
This area was originally occupied by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Menominee people were settled in the area at the time of European encounter. French fur traders from Quebec were among the first to interact with them, followed by Catholic Jesuit missionaries. The area was ruled by Great Britain as part of the Province of Quebec and then acquired by the United States.
Winneconne's European-American settlement began in the mid-19th century with Yankees who migrated from New England and the Northern Tier, added to by waves of immigrants: Irish, Germans, and Norwegians. Originally, Winneconne had many different spellings: Winneconnah, Winnekonah, Wau-nau-ko, and Winnikning, which were transliterations from the Menominee and other Indian names for the site. The Indian meanings of these names ranged from "land of dirty water" to "land of skull and bones", referring to a prehistoric burial mound known as Butte des Morts by the French. In 1851 the recently constituted village board officially settled the spelling of the name as Winneconne.
Find the Best Legal Assistant College near Winneconne WI
Selecting the right paralegal educational program is an important first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. As we have addressed in this post, you have the option of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Winneconne residence. Paralegal training programs are offered in numerous formats and lengths. Several types of public and private institutions offer paralegal training, including 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 profession. Given that there is a broad range in the quality of schools, pick wisely. Afford yourself the greatest possible chance to succeed in this fascinating profession. But regardless of how you elect to receive your training and earn your certificate or degree, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each program and make your final selection. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Winneconne WI.
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