Paralegal Programs in Illinois
No professional registration, certification or regulation requirements are in place in the state of Illinois. Formal schooling in paralegal studies, such as an associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees or post-baccalaureate certificates are the most common education methods found in Illinois's paralegal work force. Education is recommended by national and state paralegal associations as well as the American Association for Paralegal Education. Those paralegals with education and work experience may often have the greatest career opportunities.
- Find Nationally and Regionally Accredited Online Paralegal Programs
- Find Campus Based Paralegal Programs
What to Look for in a Paralegal Program
There are a variety of paralegal programs offered in Illinois and choosing the right program can be critical to your future paralegal career. There are short programs (3 to 6 months), diploma programs, associate's degree programs, bachelor's programs and post-baccalaureate certificates. Your prior education and work experience may determine what level of education you need to pursue. The paralegal profession has become quite competitive in Illinois based on the salaries, bonuses and benefits offered by employers, so employers usually have their pick of candidates.
One of the first things to do is contact employers where you may like to work as a paralegal and ask their human resources department what they desire in their paralegal candidates including their education and work experience preferences. This should give you a better idea of where to start. Some may require a bachelor's degree with work experience in an area of law they practice and others may be fine with a diploma or associate's degree and no legal field work experience.
Consider educational standards and recommendations for paralegal programs set by national or local associations. National or Regional Accreditation, American Bar Association approval and the Illinois Paralegal Association recommendations are important when choosing a paralegal program.
There are around 12 ABA approved programs in Illinois. There are no online ABA approved paralegal programs. Some employers do require an ABA approved program, however, this is not always a feasible option based on geography or cost. Other employers may have no preference to where the program was taken. Again, this is a good reason to research your employment market to know specifically what type of program you should attend. There are number of non-ABA approved programs offered online as well as throughout Illinois that are accredited by agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education. Some of these programs would actually meet the criteria for ABA approval but have not applied for it based on the cost to the schools for approval which are passed on to the student by way of tuition costs. Read more about the pros and cons of ABA and non-ABA paralegal programs.
The following schools hold regional or national accreditation recognized by the United States Department of education or ABA approval. These programs offer and paralegal education covering the Illinois and federal legal system, issues in ethics, legal research and writing and practical paralegal job skills. Many of them offer assistance finding internships or require them as part of the curriculum. Financial aid assistance is offered at many of these schools as well as academic counseling and job placement assistance. Inquire with these schools to learn more about there paralegal programs today.