How to Select the Right Paralegal Degree Program near Wautoma Wisconsin
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Wautoma WI and start your journey that will result in a satisfying profession in legal services. However, it’s essential that you find the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you need to be successful. As you probably understand, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous options to choose from, where does one start? A number of prospective students start by searching for schools within traveling range of their Wautoma homes. Of those choices, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when choosing a school, they are not the only qualifiers you must consider. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school should be taken into account also. Later in this post we will review a list of questions that you need to ask potential paralegal schools so that you can examine and compare each one prior to making your decision. But first, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational alternatives that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals basically both hold comparable job positions and functions, just with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job category. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Wautoma WI attorneys with a wide range of job duties, such as 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 work. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might help with the logistics of a trial or delivering documents to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work 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 comply with a strict standard of professional ethics. As mentioned, their responsibilities can be varied in support of the firms where they are employed, but a few of their day-to-day tasks might include:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on applicable laws and cases
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with the court or opposing counsel
- Assisting attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be involved and quite challenging. However, what they are not legally authorized to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But paralegals are not restricted to clerical or administrative functions more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the right hand support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, lawyers have the ability to take on a much larger number of cases or clients than they could on their own.
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. In any case, for either position the academic prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The quickest means to begin your career as a paralegal in Wautoma WI is by earning a certificate, which can take just 6 months to accomplish. Most entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more comprehensive education and may be acquired at many community colleges in 2 years. And if you are interested in an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a certificate or degree, you may choose to proceed and earn a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in Wisconsin to practice as a paralegal, certification can not only help improve your employment 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 program (we will cover the benefits of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two crucial initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a legal assistant or a paralegal.
Questions to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Now that you have a better understanding about what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the undertaking of assessing schools. But considering that there are numerous programs available at junior and community colleges in the Wautoma WI area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to learn what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true when you add all of the online paralegal certificate and degree programs as well. If you are like many potential students, you will start by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already covered, there are other significant factors to research also, for instance accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s take a look at several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School and Program Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select need to be accredited by a reputable 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 education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will receive will be of the highest quality, but it will show potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Wautoma WI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that are graduates of an accredited program. Finally, financial assistance and student loans are usually accessible only for accredited programs.
What’s the School’s Reputation? Research what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of special importance if you are new to the field with no prior experience, since employers will have to make a decision based on the quality of your training exclusively. Verifying that the school you choose is accredited is a good first step. Reviewing school rating services, such as those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact several Wautoma WI law practices that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even when a school is not the most highly rated, its paralegal program could still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the Program Offer Internships? Internship programs give students an opportunity to experience working in a law office or other legal establishment while attending school. They can also provide an avenue for students to start developing contacts within the Wautoma WI legal community. Find out if the paralegal schools you are evaluating offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you have the most interest in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help offered? You will most likely wish to secure employment quickly after graduating, but getting that initial job in a new profession can be challenging without support. Find out if the paralegal programs you are assessing have job assistance programs and what their placement rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Wisconsin legal services employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are highly regarded and in demand.
Where is the School Located? Considering that laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in Wisconsin or the state where you plan to work after graduating. In addition, it will be necessary to build relationships in the neighboring legal community, perhaps through an internship program. This is all the more justification to receive your education in the area where you desire to practice. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, most require an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might wish to first consider those colleges that are within the Wautoma WI region.
What is the Total Expense? Paralegal schools can differ in price depending on the credential received and the amount of training provided. Having said that, tuition will not be the only cost for your education. Don’t forget to add the cost of supplies, books and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial aid might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so be sure to consult with the school’s financial aid office to see what is offered in Wautoma WI. Naturally if you decide to attend an online school, some of these added costs, such as for commuting, might be decreased or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many paralegal students continue working while getting their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can only attend night or weekend classes near Wautoma WI, make sure classes are available at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, confirm that the school you choose makes available that option. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Legal Assistant and Paralegal Online Classes
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more popular and may be a good option for individuals searching for convenient access to classes as well as flexible scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to those who continue to work while earning a degree. As an added advantage, online programs can sometimes be less expensive than on campus options. Even ancillary expenditures for such items as commuting or study materials can be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online programs are accredited, which we will cover in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest caliber. So check to make sure that the program and school you are reviewing are accredited by a highly regarded organization, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional setting, then earning your degree or certificate online could be the ideal option for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Wautoma WI?
If you live near Wautoma Wisconsin or perhaps are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
The city consists of three noncontiguous areas: one is entirely within the Town of Wautoma, the second is entirely within the Town of Dakota, and the third straddles the boundary between the two towns.
Wautoma calls itself the "Christmas tree capital of the world". The Kirk Company of Tacoma, Washington, operated the "Wautoma plantation" of more than 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of Christmas trees, beginning in 1953.
As of the census of 2010, there were 2,218 people, 945 households, and 487 families residing in the city. The population density was 827.6 inhabitants per square mile (319.5/km2). There were 1,061 housing units at an average density of 395.9 per square mile (152.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.3% White, 1.4% African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 6.3% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.8% of the population.
Diploma Of Legal Studies Wautoma WI
Selecting the right paralegal certificate school is an important first step to guarantee your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Diploma Of Legal Studies. But as we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes on campus or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Wautoma home. Paralegal education programs are offered in numerous lengths and formats. Various types of public and private institutions provide paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal program will have a profound influence on your prospects for success in your new profession. Since there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Afford yourself the best possible chance to be successful in this rewarding profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have presented you will be able to evaluate each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the appropriate training you can realize your career objective to become a practicing paralegal in Wautoma WI.
Other Wisconsin Locations That May Be Of Interest