Legal services are important for citizens throughout Illinois, and to better serve their clients, many Illinois law firms choose to employ paralegals. A paralegal is a legal professional who assists an attorney in whatever way they need, including completing important legal tasks like writing contracts and filing briefs.
If you’re someone who is interested in becoming a paralegal in Illinois, there is a proper path that you should follow for success. While Illinois does not maintain professional requirements for paralegals, gaining an education and becoming certified will help you start a successful paralegal career.
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How to Become a Paralegal in Illinois
- Certification: Certification is voluntary in Illinois and will be done through a national organization instead of the state.
- Age: To be a paralegal, you must be a legal adult over the age of 18.
- Licensure: A license is not required to work as a paralegal in Illinois.
- Degree: To increase your chances of finding paralegal work in Illinois, you should complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies that has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Experience: Paralegal degree programs often include a work experience segment that is completed during an internship. If your program does not include an internship, you can gain experience by working pro bono for a law firm.
- Citizenship: Legal aliens and US citizens can become paralegals in Idaho.
- Ethics: Many paralegals choose to join a paralegal association, which often requires adhering to a code of ethics.
- Background Check: When you apply for employment as a paralegal with an Idaho law firm, it is common to have to submit to a background check.
Certification Process in Illinois
There is no process for becoming a certified paralegal with the state of Idaho. However, to support their career, many Idaho paralegals choose voluntary certification with a national organization. Most commonly, paralegals will seek certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
After you have completed your paralegal education, you can sit for the NALA exam. A passing grade earns you the designation of a Certified Paralegal. NALA also offers a curriculum focused certification, which can earn you the Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC).
Degrees Related to Paralegals
For paralegals seeking to enter their career as quickly as possible, a paralegal certificate is the most usual choice. However, more advanced degrees will help you compete in this profession more effectively. An associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an ABA approved program will improve your career prospects and make it easier for you to find employment.
Major Cities in Illinois
- Over 2.7 million people live in Chicago, Illinois’ largest city.
- Proviso Township has 151,704 residents, making it the second biggest Illinois city.
- Rockford has 150,251 citizens, putting it a close third.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Illinois?
Paralegals have many responsibilities. They are allowed to do many of the same tasks as a full attorney, including writing contracts and other legal documents, providing clients with information about their case and collecting evidence necessary for a trial. Paralegals are prohibited from giving legal advice, however.
If you perform common legal tasks in a law firm, then your career is similar to that of a paralegal. Legal assistants are the most closely related professionals, and do the same work as a paralegal.
Paralegal Employment Numbers in Illinois
11,140 paralegals were working in Illinois in 2015 as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Paralegal Salary Ranges in Illinois
In Chicago, a paralegal can make $51,700 annually. $48,250 is the typical yearly salary in Peoria. Paralegals in Springfield can make $46,190 in a year.
Illinois Related Organizational Links
Education Programs for Paralegals in Illinois
- Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies (partially online)
- Legal Studies, BA
- Paralegal Studies, AA
- B.S. in Legal Studies
- A.S. in Legal Studies
- Certificate: Paralegal (Legal Studies)
- Master of Divinitiy - Law Studies
- Master of Business Administration in International Legal Studies
- Master of Business Administration in American Legal Studies
- Master of Science in Legal Studies
- Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
- Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Studies Certificate
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy and Management
- Undergraduate in Legal Studies
- BS in Legal Support and Services - Paralegal Concentration