Paralegal / Legal Assistant

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The Paralegal / Legal Assistant program prepares students for a career in the legal field. The blending of extensive classroom instruction, on-the-job internships, and specialized projects allows the student to develop skills required for employment in traditional and non-traditional legal settings as assessed through the program completion exam, program competencies, internship evaluations, graduate/student surveys, and employer surveys.

What is a Paralegal?

A paralegal (sometimes also called a legal assistant) is a professional who has been specially trained to assist attorneys in the practice of law.  In the law office, paralegals act as part of the legal team representing clients in many different types of litigation and legal problems.

Paralegals are also employed by corporations, banks, real estate and finance offices and the government, where they can experience an even broader range of job opportunities and challenges. In all employment venues, paralegals are highly valued for their ability to analyze research and solve problems.

While a paralegal cannot give legal advice, set fees, or argue in court, paralegals serve a vital function in today’s society.  Many individuals are being denied access to justice, but by using paralegals to assist in their practice of law, attorneys are able to help greater numbers of people with legal problems.

What does a Paralegal do?
  • Interviewing and meeting with clients and witnesses
  • Investigation and factual research
  • Law library research
  • Computer/Internet research
  • Drafting correspondence and court documents
  • File organization
  • Summarizing medical records and depositions
  • Filing court papers
  • Office management
  • Trial preparation and assistance
Who would make a good Paralegal?
  • Be interested in the law
  • Have good oral and written communication skills
  • Be outgoing and people oriented
  • Enjoy looking for information and solutions to problems
  • Be able to handle several projects at the same time
  • A strong desire to help others with their problems
  • An inquisitive nature
  • The ability to persist in searching for information and  obtaining answers
  • Good organizational skills
  • The ability to work both independently and as part of a team
What makes WDT’s program unique?
  • WDT’s Paralegal Program is fully approved by the American Bar Association.
  • WDT’s Legal Resource Center houses a law library that includes state and federal code books and various searching resources.
  • WDT subscribes to the computer assisted legal research database, WESTLAW with individual passwords for each student.
  • WDT’s faculty is comprised of attorneys and paralegals who are experts in their fields of legal practice.
  • WDT provides internship opportunities that provide hands-on training and experience.
  • WDT provides personalized placement assistance.
  • For those students interested in further education, WDT provides articulation to many area colleges and universities.
WDT’s Paralegal program internship

During the student’s fourth semester, a 280 hour internship is completed where the student applies their knowledge gained at WDT in an on-the-job placement at a variety of businesses.  Below is a list of recent placements for our students.

Private Firms

Gunderson Palmer Nelson and Ashmore Costello Porter
Bangs McCullen Rensch Law Office
Graff Law Office Duffy Law Office
DeMersseman, Jensen McGowan Law Office
Johnson Eiesland Moore and Kandaras Law Office
Abourezk Law Office Pahlke Law Office
Connelly Law Office McNeary and Anderson, Aberdeen
Fite & Pierce, Brookings Tieszen Law Office, Brookings
Hymen Law Office, Sturgis Brady and Pluimer, Spearfish
Tellinghuisen and Gordon, Spearfish Davenport Evans, Sioux Falls
Sanford Health, Sioux Falls

States’ Attorney’s Offices

Pennington County Butte County
Meade County Lawrence County
Minnehaha County State of Arizone

Public Defenders

Rosebud Public Defender’s Office Pennington County Public Defender’s Office

Victim’s Assistance

Pennington County

Title Companies

Pennington Title

Trust Departments

Wells Fargo Trust

Insurance Companies

Assurant Insurance

Legislative

Legislative Research Council, Pierre

Lobbying

Tieszen Law Office

Military

National Guard JAG Ellsworth Air Force Base

Social Service Agencies

Working Against Violence (WAVI) Court Appointed Special  Advocates (CASA)

Corporate

Wall Drug Corporate Offices

Where is the career going?

Paralegalism is among the nation’s 20 fastest-growing occupations. Generally, employers require formal paralegal training obtained through associate or bachelor degree programs. This program is approved by the American Bar Association.