How to Pick the Right Legal Assistant Degree Program near Waupun Wisconsin
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Waupun WI and start your journey that will result in a fulfilling career in legal services. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you locate the best school so that you will receive the comprehensive training that you require to succeed. As you probably know, the legal field is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and more and more educational choices are becoming available, both at school and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one start? Some prospective students start by looking for schools within traveling range of their Waupun residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are very important considerations when choosing a college, they are not the only qualifiers you must take into consideration. Things such as accreditation and the reputation of the school ought to be considered also. Later on in this post we will cover a list of questions that you must ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare each one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s take a look at what a paralegal does and the educational choices that are available to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Paralegals and legal assistants for the most part both fill the same job positions and responsibilities, only with different titles. However, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals assist Waupun WI lawyers with a diverse array of job duties, including maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their particular job duties are relevant to the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law firm could help with trial logistics or delivering files to court. In private practices, a paralegal’s work is normally billed hourly as are the attorney’s. And just like attorneys, they must carry out their duties with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As mentioned, their duties can be wide ranging in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their routine tasks may involve:
- Investigating and fact checking cases
- Conducting research on relevant cases and laws
- Composing correspondence and legal documents
- Submitting legal papers with opposing counsel or the court
- Assisting lawyers prepare for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and managing legal documents, files and additional records
With all of their duties, the role of a paralegal can be complex and rather challenging. However, what they are not legally allowed to do is offer legal counsel and advice or represent a client in a legal action. But paralegals are not confined to clerical or administrative tasks more applicable to the job of a legal secretary. Legal assistants truly are the main support systems for lawyers. And since they do so much of the legal ground work and preparation, lawyers are able to take on a much larger number of clients or cases than they could on their own.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we previously covered, paralegals are essentially the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. In any case, for either position the educational requirements and job prospects will be the same. The quickest means to start your career as a legal assistant in Waupun WI is by obtaining a certificate, which can require as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do require an Associate’s Degree, which offer a more extensive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in two years. For an even more comprehensive education, four year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. After you have earned either a degree or a certificate, you may choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a mandatory requirement in Wisconsin to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your job opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional as well. 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 address the advantages of accreditation later) and earning a certification, you will have taken two important initial steps that will help ensure your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
What to Ask Paralegal Colleges
Since you now you have a better idea about what paralegals do and what academic options are offered, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating schools. But because there are so many programs available at junior and community colleges in the Waupun WI area, as well as trade and vocational schools, you must know what questions to ask so that you can evaluate 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 looking for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other important aspects to think about also, including accreditation and the reputation of the schools. So let’s go over a few of the questions you need to be asking the programs you are considering so that you can effectively vet each one and make your final choice.
Is the Paralegal School Accredited? The paralegal school and program that you select should be accredited by a recognized accrediting agency such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online school, it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets online or distance education. Accreditation will not only certify that the training you will get will be of the highest standard, but it will demonstrate to future employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Waupun WI law firms will only employ entry level paralegals that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial aid and student loans are typically available only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the reputations and rankings are for the legal assistant programs you are considering. This is of specific importance if you are entering the field with no prior experience, since employers will need to make a decision based on the quality of your education exclusively. Confirming that the school you select is accredited is a good first step. Checking school rating services, including those provided by U.S. News and World Report, can help verify school quality of education and rankings as well. You can also contact several Waupun WI law firms that you may have an interest in working for after graduation and ask what schools they recommend. Bear in mind that even though a school is not the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an excellent reputation.
Does the School Provide Internships? Internship programs offer students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal enterprise while remaining in school. They can also offer a means for students to start creating contacts within the Waupun WI legal community. Find out if the paralegal programs you are considering offer internship programs, particularly in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering after graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will most likely want to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that initial job in a new profession can be difficult without help. Ask if the paralegal schools you are considering have job assistance programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are a good sign that the schools have substantial networks and good relationships with Wisconsin legal services employers. It also substantiates that their graduates are well regarded and in demand.
Where is the School’s Location? Because laws differ among states, it may be beneficial to select a paralegal school domiciled in Wisconsin or the state where you plan to practice after graduation. Also, it will be necessary to create relationships in the area legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is all the more justification to obtain your education in the community where you desire to work. 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 first investigate those colleges that are within the Waupun WI area.
How Much is the Complete Expense? Paralegal programs can vary in price based on the credential received and the amount of training furnished. However, tuition will not be the only expenditure for your training. Don’t forget to add the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget also. Financial assistance might be available to help minimize part of the expense, so don’t forget to consult with the school’s financial aid department to find out what is available in Waupun WI. Of course if you decide to attend an online program, a portion these supplementary costs, for instance for commuting, might be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Match your Schedule? Many legal students keep working while obtaining their training and require flexibility to schedule classes. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Waupun WI, make sure classes are offered at those times. Additionally, if you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select makes available that option. Last, find out what the procedure is for making-up classes missed as a result of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Legal Assistant and Paralegal Programs
Online legal assistant or paralegal programs have become more common and can be an excellent alternative for those looking for convenient access to classes as well as accommodating scheduling. Online programs can be especially appealing to students who keep working while obtaining a degree. As an additional advantage, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting 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 ensure that the training you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the school and program you are considering are accredited by a reputable 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 might be the right choice for you.
Attending a Paralegal School near Waupun WI?
If you live near Waupun 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.
Waupun is a city in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 11,340 at the 2010 census. Of this, 7,864 were in Dodge County, and 3,476 were in Fond du Lac County. In Fond du Lac County, the Town of Waupun abuts the city of Waupun.
Waupun comes from the Ojibwe word "Waubun" which means "dawn of day." In fact Waupun was originally supposed to be named "Waubun" but the State of Wisconsin made a spelling error, and Waupun never bothered to change it.
Waupun was founded in 1839 by Seymour Wilcox, the first settler along the Rock River in what was then deciduous forested land. The territorial Census in 1847 showed Waupun Township to have a population of 956. In 1851, the city was chosen for the State Penitentiary, owing to the abundance of limestone for construction. The main building, constructed in 1854, is still in use. The population in 1940 was 6,725.
Legal Assistant Schooling Waupun WI
Choosing the ideal legal assistant certificate program is a crucial first step toward your success in the rewarding field of law. You originally came to this website because you had an interest in getting more information about Legal Assistant Schooling. But as we have addressed 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 Waupun home. Paralegal academic programs are made available in various lengths and formats. Several kinds of private and public institutions make available paralegal training, including junior and community colleges, four year colleges and universities, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your choice of a paralegal program will have a profound impact on your prospects for success in your new career. Considering that there is a wide range in the quality of schools, pick carefully. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But irrespective of how you choose to receive your education and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will be able to assess each school and make your ultimate decision. And with the right education you can realize your career objective to become a successful paralegal in Waupun WI.
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