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.
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.
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 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