Become a Paralegal in Wisconsin

Wisconsin isn’t just about cheese! Ten Wisconsin companies made the Fortune 500 list in 2013; Johnson Controls, Kohl’s, Rockwell Automation and Harley-Davidson were all on the list. Six of these companies are located in Milwaukee, while insurance companies American Family Insurance Group and Northwestern Mutual are based in Madison and Milwaukee, respectively. The insurance industry is just one of the areas in which paralegals are in demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 3,420 paralegal and legal assistants were employed in Wisconsin in 2012, earning an average hourly wage was $21.08 and an annual mean wage of $43,850. Top earners could make as much as $63,000 a year.

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Wisconsin Paralegal Certification

There is no mandatory licensing of paralegals in Wisconsin. In 2008, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the State Bar’s paralegal petition designed to establish licensing and regulation for paralegals. There is an ongoing effort to revise and re-submit this petition.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Wisconsin

Paralegal Certificates

  • Madison Area Technical College

    Madison Area Technical College‘s paralegal post-baccalaureate certificate is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree and are looking to enter the paralegal profession, or increase their knowledge and skills so that they can compete for better jobs. This two-semester program includes course work in substantive and procedural law, legal research and writing and computer technology as it relates to the legal environment, and is offered at both the Truax Campus and the West Madison Campus.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $3,666 for state residents; $5,499 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree or higher
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Legal Research
    • Family Law
    • Administrative Law
    • Civil Litigation 1 & 2
    • Career Building Techniques – Paralegal
    • Computer Applications – Legal
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

    Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) serves approximately 42,000 students each year. This two-year public institution offers affordable educational programs, as well as advanced technology and state-of-the-art facilities. NWTC’s paralegal post-baccalaureate certificate program prepares graduates to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, work collaboratively while showing individual initiative, use critical thinking skills, organize legal information and perform effective and efficient legal research using both traditional and computerized techniques.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $2,841 for Wisconsin residents & Minnesota residents who are full-time students; $4,124 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree or higher
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Civil Litigation 1 & 2
    • Indian Law
    • Legal Aspects/Business Org
    • Legal Research
    • Legal Writing
    • Paralegal Criminal Procedure

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Chippewa Valley Technical College

    Located in Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley Technical College is part of Wisconsin’s Technical College System. Its paralegal associate degree program is taught by a faculty of experienced attorneys and paralegals. Students take courses in both liberal arts and numerous aspect of law, with an emphasis on understanding and reasoning rather than learning by rote. They also take part in an internship or field study to give them hands-on experience.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $8,065 for Wisconsin and Minnesota residents; $12,098 for out-of-state students (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma, GED, High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) or completion of a home school program; entrance assessment such as COMPASS or ACT
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus
  • Lakeshore Technical College

    Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) offers a relatively affordable paralegal Associate of Applied Science at both its main campus in Cleveland and at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) via live interactive television. This intensive, hands-on course of study requires that students be available in the afternoons and evenings Monday through Friday. Student learn to analyze legal procedural problems, draft legal documents, conduct legal research, behave professionally and act ethically.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $8712 for state residents; $13,068 for out-of-state students (based 2013 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisties: High school diploma; placement exam
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Business Law
    • Civil Litigation 1 & 2
    • Legal Aspects of Business Organizations
    • Personal Branding – Paralegal
    • Introduction to Paralegalism & Legal Ethics

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Herzing University in Madison

    Herzing University offers a nine-semester Bachelor of Science in legal studies program at its Madison campus. This course of study prepares graduates to take the Certified Paralegal examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Students learn how to assist attorneys by helping to preparing legal arguments, drafting pleadings and motions, preparing case reports and investigating the facts of cases.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $53,000 (based on 2013 per-semester tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma, GED or HSED
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: On campus or online

Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

Professional Organizations

  • The Madison Area Paralegal Association (MAPA) is a group of paralegals, legal professionals and students who live and work in Madison and surrounding areas. It offers Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits through its Lunch & Learn programs, as well as scholarship programs, mock interview programs, student receptions and a mentoring program for new graduates.
  • The Paralegal Association of Wisconsin (PAW) promotes the paralegal profession, encourages training, conducts educational seminars, provides forums for discussions, publishes information related to paralegals and the legal system and facilitates networking opportunities. PAW has been working with the State Bar of Wisconsin, paralegal educators, government liaisons and others to develop a regulatory plan for mandatory licensing of paralegals in Wisconsin.
  • The State Bar of Wisconsin was created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and membership in it is mandatory for all attorneys licensed in the state. It serves members through continuing education, attorney referrals and public education.