“I am very proud to be able to showcase that I am certified through the State Bar of Wisconsin and was especially proud to be part of the inaugural class of Certified Paralegals when the program first started,” says Jennifer Wiechec, a paralegal for more than 20 years, currently with the firm Corneille Law Group, LLC.
Oct. 19, 2022 – In addition to ACP, Jennifer Wiechec puts the initials “SBWCP” after her name. While ACP refers to “Advanced Certified Paralegal,” the SBWCP indicates that Wiechec is a
State Bar of Wisconsin Certified Paralegal™.
Stephanie Mackey, a paralegal in her 10th year with the Milwaukee County Office of Corporation Counsel, also uses those initials after her name.
Both Wiechec and Mackey are committed to the SBWCP program – and say that participation has made an impact on their careers as paralegals.
“I am very proud to be able to showcase that I am certified through the State Bar of Wisconsin and was especially proud to be part of the inaugural class of Certified Paralegals when the program first started,” Wiechec said.
“Being able to place SBWCP after my name has made me feel more valuable in my role as a paralegal, and demonstrates to my clients that I have devoted time and resources to my continual professional growth and development,” Mackey said.
Mackey primarily practices in the area of civil rights defense, as well as employment discrimination and personal injury. “I will work on other civil matters, such as actions seeking injunctive or declaratory relief. These practice areas permit me to assist in various levels of complex litigation in state, federal, and appellate court, as well as administrative forums.”
Wiechec has been a paralegal for more than 20 years, and has more than 10 years logged with her current firm, Corneille Law Group, LLC, Madison. “I do medical malpractice cases,” Wiechec said. “The firm itself does primarily medical malpractice and general liability as well as professional liability, Insurance liability, and appellate work.”
State Bar Certified Paralegal program is a self-funded, voluntary program for all paralegals in Wisconsin who meet the program's criteria. The SBWCP program creates a standard for the quality of paralegal services. Now in its fourth year, the program protects the interest of paralegals and attorneys by providing a certification process that vets the paralegal’s education and experience.
To be certified, the paralegals must work under the supervision of a Wisconsin-licensed attorney. They must also meet the program’s education and experience requirements, and participate in ongoing legal education to polish their skills and keep them up to date.
“This certification program shows that the State Bar understands the importance of paralegals to the legal profession and is dedicated to enhancing the careers of paralegals throughout the state,” Wiechec said.
What Certification Means
“Being able to place SBWCP after my name has made me feel more valuable in my role as a paralegal, and demonstrates to my clients that I have devoted time and resources to my continual professional growth and development,” says Stephanie Mackey, a paralegal in her 10th year with the Milwaukee County Office of Corporation Counsel. Here she poses with supervising attorney Karen Tidwall (left).
Wiechec and Mackey recently took time to answer questions about their paralegal careers and the SBWCP program.
Why was it important for you to get State Bar certified?
Wiechec: As a transplant from Biloxi, Mississippi, it was important to me to be certified by the State Bar to show a dedication to working within Wisconsin. I feel State Bar certification shows a commitment to learning Wisconsin law, and shows attorneys and potential clients that I am dedicated to the paralegal profession and have the added knowledge and expertise required to effectively perform state specific legal work. It shows a commitment to growth as a professional and verifies my education and skills as a Wisconsin paralegal.
Mackey: Becoming State Bar certified helps show that I take my work very seriously and strive to stay current on changes in the law by continuing my legal education on a yearly basis. Milwaukee County employees work extremely hard with fewer resources each year, so I want to defend their reputation while upholding the integrity of Milwaukee County as a whole. I take pride in the work that I do, and I work hard to make sure that our work product is thorough, accurate, and timely. I participate in all areas of litigation from initial investigatory work to interviewing witnesses to assisting with drafting discovery and motion practice. I spend countless hours conducting legal research to aide in our defense of oftentimes very complex matters. I am a valuable member to our defense team, and I contribute immensely to portraying Milwaukee County in a positive light.
What impact has certification made on your career?
Mackey: Being certified has placed me in a position to advance my career into a more supervisory role within Milwaukee County. My colleagues understand that I am continually learning and developing professionally. As a result, they seek out my perspective on many matters and respect my point of view. The valuable courses that are offered through the State Bar are directly in line with the practice areas in which I work. Staying up-to-date on various changes helps me provide the best assistance to my attorneys and Milwaukee County.
Wiechec: Being a certified paralegal through the State Bar has afforded me opportunities to connect with other individuals committed to the paralegal profession as well as increased my visibility as a para-professional. Becoming certified through the State Bar made me more aware of my own aspirations to excel as a paralegal and to be more involved in the profession as a whole.
Paralegals are of ‘Critical Importance’ to Legal Practice
Karen Tidwall is Milwaukee County Deputy Corporation Counsel and Mackey’s supervising attorney. With the county’s large population, the office handles a wide variety of civil disputes in the areas of civil rights, employment, and property. “Our paralegals work hand-in-glove with our attorneys to ensure that each and every matter is handled with the utmost legal skill and professionalism, and with outcomes that are just and equitable,” Tidwall said.
Mackey and the office’s other paralegals work on each case from start to finish, including case and document management, and all aspects of discovery, research, and drafting. “Paralegals are of critical importance and invaluable to our municipal government litigation practice,” Tidwall said.
We know that paralegals with SBWCP certification are highly qualified, she said. Certification demonstrates a commitment to continual learning and professional development, and shows pride in their accomplishments and work ethic. “We can rely on and trust them to effectively and appropriately handle the most important matters on behalf of our client,” Tidwall said.
More About the Certified Paralegal Program
State Bar of Wisconsin Certified Paralegal (SBWCP) meets and maintains the certification requirements, including training and ethical standards. The program provides a benchmark to ensure paralegal competency and enhance the quality of the legal services they provide.
To be certified, all paralegal program applicants must:
be employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, or agency;
be directly supervised by a Wisconsin-licensed lawyer;
consent to a criminal history background check; and
meet the program’s education OR experience requirements.
To maintain their certification, SBWCPs must meet the program’s employment practice and education requirements, including 12 hours of continuing legal education every two years, with at least 2 ethics & professional responsibility credits.
For more information about the State Bar of Wisconsin Certified Paralegal program, call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or visit
the program’s webpage on WisBar.org.