Wisconsin is home to many professional paralegals, with thousands of Wisconsin residents currently in this profession and many more joining every single year. If you’re interested in joining this highly competitive field, there’s no time like the present. As with most careers, becoming a Wisconsin paralegal requires following the right path, which includes education and training.
While the state of Wisconsin does not hold any specific rules, regulations or laws for performing paralegal work, many law firms will only consider candidates who have completed paralegal degrees and have taken the time to become certified with national paralegal organizations.
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How to Become a Paralegal in Wisconsin
- Certification: Wisconsin does not require paralegals to be certified. Voluntary certification with a national organization, however, is recommended for paralegals serious about furthering their careers.
- Age: Legal adults can work as paralegals in Wisconsin.
- Licensure: A licenses for paralegal is not available in Wisconsin, nor is it required.
- Degree: Degrees are not required to become a paralegal in Wisconsin, although many top law firms will prefer their paralegals have at least an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an American Bar Association approved program.
- Experience: Before becoming employed, many paralegals try to acquire professional experience. The easiest ways to gain paralegal experience are in an internship or through pro bono legal work.
- Citizenship: If you are a legal alien or a US citizen, you can become a Wisconsin paralegal.
- Background Check: While Wisconsin does not require paralegals to submit to a background check, it is common for employers to request a check before you will be hired.
- Ethics: Many professional paralegal organization maintain ethical guidelines that you will need to follow for membership.
Paralegal Certification Process in Wisconsin
- Licensure: A paralegal in Wisconsin is not required to be certified before seeking employment. On the other hand, the majority of law firms in Wisconsin prefer paralegal applicants who have gained certification with a national organization, of which the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is the most popular.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
The most common degree for a paralegal is in paralegal studies. This can be done at both the associate’s and bachelor’s level, and should always come from an ABA approved program. It is also possible to enroll in a certificate program or to complete a criminal justice degree and take paralegal related courses like legal research and legal writing.
Major Cities in Wisconsin
- Milwaukee is the largest Wisconsin city with 599,164 residents.
- Madison has 243,344 residents, distinguishing it as the second largest city.
- Green Bay is home to 104,779 people.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Wisconsin?
- Paralegals collect evidence, talk to witness and perform research for attorneys.
- A paralegal can write legal documents, such as briefs, and can then file those same documents with the court.
- It is possible for paralegals to assist lawyers throughout a trial by managing exhibits and reviewing court transcripts.
Several legal professionals are responsible for similar job duties as paralegals. These related professions include claims adjusters, legal secretaries, title examiners and legal assistants. In particular, if you work in support of an attorney, your job is similar to a paralegal.
Paralegal Employment Numbers in Wisconsin
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 4,470 paralegals/legal assistants employed in Wisconsin in 2015.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Paralegal Salary Ranges in Wisconsin
A Milwaukee paralegal can expect to make an average annual salary of $51,510. For paralegals who seek employment in Madison, the standard yearly salary is $49,730.
Wisconsin Related Organizational Links
- National Association of Legal Assistants Certification Page
- American Bar Association Paralegal Programs in Wisconsin
- Paralegal Association of Wisconsin