How’s the Workspace for Paralegals in Wisconsin?

Paralegal Education in Wisconsin

Flag of Wisconsin

Flag of Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wisconsin, a state notable for many things, is also of some note thanks to the high population of paralegals employed between its borders: some 3,500 by the 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. Like the majority of states, Wisconsin does not enforce stringent rules on the educational requirements of a paraprofessional. Indeed, it only states what cannot be done by one, such as displays in the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 5.3 regarding non-lawyer assistance which can be summarized in the following words: A non-lawyer must not give legal advice, nor misrepresent himself as a lawyer; not may the paraprofessional charge additional wages for time spent as a lawyer and certainly cannot present a client in a court of law as a lawyer. Rule 5.3 also establishes the relationship of a paralegal and his supervising attorney, which all paralegals have.

A paralegal must work under the direct supervision of a practicing attorney who, in partial return for the assistance rendered, agrees to accept responsibility for the paralegal’s professional conduct, and teaching the paralegal professional ethics and confidentiality. Otherwise, every substantive legal procedure a lawyer engages in can generally be performed by a paralegal, making them time saving and indispensable.

Salaries

In USD as of Mar 12, 2013 (source: indeed.com) 25k 50k 75k
Paralegal in Wisconsin $42,000
 

Spotlight School

Education Requirements

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol (Photo credit: shahbasharat)

There are no statutory requirements for paralegals in Wisconsin; a paralegal does not need a degree or a certificate to practice, only the opportunity and – should a job be entered into without the paraprofessional owning any formal training – a mentor to help her learn as she goes. It’s becoming increasingly more commonplace for an aspiring paralegal to gain training and a degree before entering the field. A formal understanding of law and legal documents is far more preferred by employers than a clueless rookie. A paralegal certification is gained easily enough through a program from a local community college or something more substantial from a four-year university, private or public. The proud owner of a Bachelor’s degree can even go back to school with all general requirements out of the way and focus specifically on legal studies a Post-Baccalaureate certification often completed in about a year’s time.

When choosing a school, look for one that is not only ABA approved but accredited as well. ABA approval, or those programs awarded recognition from the American Bar Association, gain such appreciation by meeting or exceeding the demands and rigors set forward by the ABA. An accredited school is required for courses and course work to genuinely ‘stick’ or mean something later down the road. It is granted by a local, regional or national authority and boils down to the school teaching its students correctly and in such a manner as to be educational. Both are important awardings for a school and the school’s offered programs. It can make a difference in your professional life, too.

Certificated and Certified

Just as there is a difference between ABA approved and accredited, so there is a difference between certificated and Certified. Certificated is automatically what a paralegal becomes once successfully completing a program in legal studies or the equivalent; Certified is an enviable title a paralegal can claim once she has sat for and successfully passes one of four national exams sponsored by one of three national paraprofessional associations. Requirements per exam vary, so refer to the chart beforehand:

The exams are designed to showcase a paralegal’s strengths and core competencies, plus it looks very good on a resume. Certainly, Certified Paralegal is a title worthy of aspiration.

Searching Through Ivory-Covered Halls

There are six ABA approved programs in Wisconsin for aspiring paralegals:

Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire is a public, two-year school offering an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree in Paralegal Studies. Internships are mandatory.

Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, WI is a two-year AAS degree in Paralegal Studies where the internship is mandatory and mixes day/evening classes with some online options for greater program flexibility.

Madison Area Technical College in Madison is a public two-year school offering an AAS (roughly 4 semesters to complete) and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate (about 2 semesters to complete). Internships are mandatory.

Milwaukee Area Technical College in Milwaukee is a public two-year school extending an Associates Degree and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. The degree generally requires 4 semesters to complete and the Certificate takes 2 semesters.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay is a public, technical school offering an Associate in Arts degree, and Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.
The Certificate requires a 2-year minimum length of time to complete the program: while the Associates Degree takes 4 semesters. Internships are mandatory.

Western Technical College is a public, two year college in La Crosse that offers an AS in paralegal studies.

Paralegal Associations

Associations have developed over time to help springboard and assist paralegals in gaining public visibility and trust in their considerable skills. It is still a common misconception to assume only lawyers can do what they do and overlook paralegals entirely. Of late more attention has been gained but it’s not without effort. For a paraprofessional to join an association, local or national, shows an investment not just in one’s career but in the professional attitude of the career itself. Many associates find greater learning opportunities as well as being encouraged to gain greater understanding; many associations will sponsor workshops and seminars, pro bono work for community exposure and chances to socialize with other paraprofessionals, and simply to offer services not normally obtained otherwise. It’s recommended all aspiring paralegals, even students, seek an association to join. It can also provide job banking and a greater sense of community.

Important Links

Paralegal Schools in Wisconsin

Campus: Online

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)

Campus: Online

National Louis University is one of the oldest and most progressive universities in Chicago. We offer more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs through two colleges: the National College of Education and the College of Professional Studies and Advancement.

Programs:

  • B.A. in Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Administration

Campus: Online

At Broadveiw University, we prepare students for exciting careers in high-value fields. Imagine getting paid for what you love doing. It all starts with career-based training at Broadview University.

Programs:

  • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal

Campus: Online

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

We are committed to helping you achieve your goals and complete your degree as quickly as possible.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Juvenile Justice
  • Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice: Public Administration
  • Master of Science: Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science: Criminal Justice: Public Administration

Campus: Online

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education. Eligible students can receive college credit for prior military experience and coursework—up to 75 percent of the credit needed for a Kaplan University undergraduate degree.*

Programs:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology 
  • Associate of Applied Science In Public Safety and Security 
  • BS in Corrections
  • Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
  • AAS in Criminal Justice

Campus: Online

Since 1977, Keiser University has provided quality student-centered, career-focused education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions. Degrees are offered with a curriculum that is in pace with technology and workforce demand trends in business, criminal justice, health care, information technology and more. Our “one-class-at-a-time” approach allows busy students to focus on their education and balance the demands of work and family.

 

Why Keiser University Online?

   

Online Convenience, Personalized Attention

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice, MA (Online)

Campus: Online

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University. Take classes online or on campus. Pursue your degree to help you start the career you want. Learn more now.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

Campus: Online

Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose. Our 20,000 alumni, from more than 110 countries, are changing the world as accomplished professionals. Named a top-15 school nationally for online bachelor's programs (U.S. News & World Report, 2015), Regent is among the most affordable undergraduate Christian colleges (CCCU 2015). Fully accredited, challenging programs are available online and on campus. New classes begin every eight weeks.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Laws - American Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice