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Paralegal Schools in Illinois

The following overview of paralegal schools in Illinois will provide you with the factual information you need to make an informed choice on the school that is right for you. An array of quality paralegal programs is available in Illinois, from the certificate to the bachelor’s degree level. You may also find that online degree programs may be a more flexible option for your career goals and interests.

Quick Facts

  • There are 40 colleges and universities that offer paralegal/legal assistant degree programs in Illinois.1
  • 16 schools offer a certificate program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
  • 23 schools offer an associate’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
  • 8 schools offer a bachelor’s degree program for paralegals/legal assistants.1
  • 9 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree for paralegals/legal assistants.1
  • 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.2
  • 1 school ranked in Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs in 2018.3
  • No schools ranked in College Factual’s Best Colleges Offering Degrees in Legal Professions in 2018.4
  • 7 schools ranked in US News Best Law Schools in 2019.5
  • 17 not-for-profit ABA-approved paralegal degree programs are in Illinois.6

Top-Ranked Schools with Paralegal Programs

Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges 2018*

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (#30 in-state, #18 out-of-state)

*Institution-wide ranking.

Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs 2018

  • Dominican University (#11)

US News Best Law Schools 2019

  • University of Chicago (#4)
  • Northwestern University (#11 tie)
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (#37 tie)
  • Loyola University Chicago (#74 tie)
  • Illinois Institute of Technology (#85 tie)
  • DePaul University (#128 tie)
  • Northern Illinois University (#144 tie)

Schools with Paralegal Programs Approved by the ABA

  • College of DuPage
  • College of Lake County
  • Elgin Community College
  • Illinois Central College
  • Illinois State University
  • Kankakee Community College
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Lewis University
  • MacCormac College
  • Midstate College
  • Oakton Community College
  • Robert Morris University-Chicago
  • Roosevelt University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • South Suburban College
  • Wilbur Wright College
  • William Rainey Harper College
    • Paralegal Degree Programs in Illinois

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      College of DuPage

      The Paralegal Studies Associate in Applied Science (AAS) at the College of DuPage is designed to foster competent and ethical career paralegals by building a practical legal education on a foundation of sound legal ethics, dynamic problem-solving skills, effective communication, and analytical ability. The objectives of the program include providing students with the skills needed to implement legal research with both print and electronic resources, produce concise and formal legal documents, and demonstrate proficiency in workplace technology. The curriculum includes general education courses, legal courses, and technology courses and culminates in the mandatory Paralegal Practicum in which students complete 120 hours of paralegal work in a law office and attend a seminar series that guides students in creating a professional portfolio. The internship requirement develops workplace skills and provides valuable exposure to legal environments. The Paralegal Studies AAS degree program is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Additionally, the College of DuPage offers a post-degree certificate in Paralegal Studies for applicants who have already earned an associate’s degree or higher.

      Experience is very helpful, so I suggest interviewing for some other position within a firm or corporation just to get some basic legal experience, then when a job opening comes up, the applicant would be able to apply before the job is offered to “outsiders.” Also, list specific experience obtained as an intern.” –Ann Atkinson, President of NALA – The Paralegal Association.

      Illinois State University

      Illinois State University (ISU) hosts an ABA-approved paralegal training program within the Legal Studies Department for those wishing to combine specific, formal paralegal training with a bachelor’s degree. As an interdisciplinary department, the Legal Studies program is characterized by a flexible curriculum that allows students to supplement general paralegal training with one or more specialty areas of study within the field. Specific course sequences are developed by each student with the guidance of the legal studies advisor and are tailored to suit students’ individual career objectives. Core topics include the role of paralegals within the general procedures of the legal system, legal writing and research, and civil and criminal procedure. Though not mandatory, the Professional Practice component of the Legal Studies program facilitates student internships in professional legal departments and awards students one credit for every 45 hours worked. These internships may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid. This program requires four years to complete and is a fitting option for those wishing to incorporate more comprehensive, academic study of the legal field with practical ABA-approved paralegal training. Successful completion of the ISU Legal Studies Program satisfies the educational section of the eligibility requirements for the Certified Legal Assistant Exam from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

      City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright

      The paralegal program at City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright prepares graduates for paralegal careers with an emphasis on practical, hands-on training. Through 63 credit hours of study, students learn essential paralegal skills and applicable legal concepts. Students may take courses on a full- or part-time basis. The core curriculum includes courses in Legal Research and Writing, Wills Trusts, and Probate, Civil Litigation, and Business Law for the Paralegal. All students in the paralegal program may access the school’s legal research library and online research tools. Additional enrichment opportunities may be found through participation in the college’s Paralegal Club. An optional internship during the final semester of study affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Graduates emerge from the American Bar Association-approved program with an Associate in Applied Science (AAAS) in Paralegal degree and are supported by the college’s comprehensive job placement and career advising services. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public except as expressly authorized by law.

      Dominican University

      The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Legal Studies offered by Dominican University, which can be completed fully online, prepares students for professional paralegal careers in a variety of environments as well as for advanced academic study in law or the social sciences. The program is offered in an accelerated format, providing the equivalent of two years of full-time study in 20 months. Students pursuing the BA in Legal Studies can choose up to two concentrations to support the major from seven concentration areas: Criminal Justice, Disability Advocacy, Labor Relations, Law & Social Justice, or Paralegal Studies. Regardless of concentration, all students complete fundamental courses in legal research, writing, and theory, including courses in the philosophy of law and legal ethics. Those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another subject may also be interested in Dominican University’s Second Bachelor’s Program, which provides the opportunity to earn the BA in Legal Studies as a second baccalaureate degree by completing just 10 courses.

      Online Paralegal Programs

      College of Lake County

      The College of Lake County offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Paralegal Studies or, for students who have already earned a college degree, a Paralegal Studies Certificate. The AAS includes many online courses, and the certificate program can be completed entirely online. Both of the programs are approved by the American Bar Association. The AAS program requires four semesters of study. A three-credit internship with a minimum of 120 hours of real-world experience is offered toward the end of the program. Graduates go on to work in entry-level positions or may transfer their academic credit to another institution and pursue further legal studies. Students with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can complete the certificate program to prepare for a career in legal assistance in the public or private sectors. Both programs offer core courses in topics such as Litigation, Real Property, Law, Corporate and Securities Law, Immigration Law, and Intellectual Property Law. The Paralegal Studies program also emphasizes writing and research skills, as well as the ability to think critically about legal issues and act ethically.

      Loyola University Chicago

      Loyola University Chicago offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Paralegal Studies program that is aimed toward students who already have completed at least 15 semester hours in paralegal studies. This degree path is most common for students who have earned an associate degree in paralegal studies and who want to continue on to a bachelor’s degree. Students can transfer up to 24 credit hours in the paralegal major. The BA program requires a total of 48 credit hours in paralegal studies; major courses follow an eight-week schedule with evening and Saturday morning options. Other Loyola requirements and core courses may be completed entirely online or through evening or weekend classes. The paralegal studies curriculum covers litigation, corporate practice, and research and analysis skills in courses such as Civil Litigation, Legal Technology, and Contract Administration and Analysis. The program also focuses on the technology currently being used in the legal field as well as legal ethics and practices.

      Student Reviews

      Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

      College of DuPage
      425 Fawell Blvd
      Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
      (630) 942-2800
      http://www.cod.edu/

      Student Review: “College of DuPage has an ABA-approved Paralegal Studies program, so I felt confident about the quality of my classes going in. Some professors are much better than others, but I liked that all of the instructors had to be licensed attorneys. You are being taught by the type of people that you will ultimately work for. The program did a fantastic job at comprehensively covering legal research and writing from the beginning, and I got to appreciate the value of those skills with subsequent courses and with my internship in the program. The other major plus for this program was the mandatory internship. The director works with you to get a placement and she teaches the last course in the program, which focuses on your progression in your internship. The one thing that I disliked about the program was the course offered on technology in the law office; it was disorganized and poorly taught. The class tried to focus too much on too many different law office applications with only a very superficial introduction to the practical value of each application.” -Student at College of DuPage
      stars-5

      Elgin Community College
      1700 Spartan Dr
      Elgin, IL 60123
      (847) 697-1000
      https://elgin.edu/

      Student Review: “Elgin Community College has a paralegal program that I truly believe is second to none. My experience with the program so far has brought many challenges and has led to many accomplishments. As a result of overcoming the challenges, I have become better prepared for a professional career as a paralegal. The amazing talent that the school has assigned to teach this program are all wonderful, intelligent, and extremely helpful. I enjoyed the fact that the majority of my instructors are all practicing lawyers and know the legal field like the back of their hands. Another positive that comes from this program is that students are working hands-on with people who are more than willing to mentor them. The biggest challenge that comes from this program is fulfilling the intern requirement, but it usually ends with the intern getting picked up for paying work. Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone interested in working in the legal field or any office-type job.” -Student at Elgin Community College
      stars-5

      Harper College
      1200 W Algonquin Rd
      Palatine, IL 60067
      (847) 925-6000
      https://www.harpercollege.edu/index.php

      Student Review: “My paralegal prep program taught me some valuable things I will always remember throughout my life. The opportunity to go to school and expand my horizons has given me a broader understanding of the world and how my job makes the world work. I am enlightened and more confident about myself. There were some hard moments and times when I thought I would not be able to finish the program. Ultimately I’m glad I did. I recommend anyone trying to get their degree to go to this school and pursue your dreams. It is never too late and this is one of the best ways to improve your life.” -Student at Harper College
      stars-4

      Northwestern University
      633 Clark St
      Evanston, IL 60208
      (847) 491-3741
      https://www.northwestern.edu/

      Student Review: “I loved being a part of Legal Studies Department at Northwestern University. The classes were challenging and thought-provoking. The faculty in the department are all very brilliant and also accessible at the same time. I love the breadth and depth of the courses available to students. For instance, part of the major requirements is that students must take one course in each of the following areas: Theory/Philosophy, Global/Comparative Perspectives, Institutions/ Organizations/Economics, Law and Inequality, and Legal Argument/Communications. I appreciated how these requirements helped me construct a more comprehensive legal knowledge base. In addition, as a Legal Studies major, I had the option to participate a two-quarter Advanced Research Seminar where students design and execute original socio-legal research projects. Overall, I think this department prepared students very well for future law school or legal professions.” -Student at Northwestern University
      stars-5

      Southwestern Illinois College
      2500 Carlyle Ave
      Belleville, IL 62221
      (618) 235-2700
      https://www.swic.edu/

      Student Review: “The paralegal studies program at Southwestern Illinois College has been a wonderful experience for me so far. I am still currently a student in the program, and I highly recommend the program if you are interested in the legal field. The professors are approachable and always willing to help you (including meeting with you during office hours for individual study sessions to help you grasp the material better). All the professors in this program have extensive experience as paralegals, lawyers or judges and have plenty of hands-on stories to apply to the content of the courses to make them easier to relate to real experiences you will encounter on the job in the future.” -Student at Southwestern Illinois College
      stars-5

      References:
      1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
      2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values in Public Colleges: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-public-colleges/index.php
      3. Paralegal411’s Top Online Paralegal Programs: https://www.paralegal411.org/degrees/bachelors/online/
      4. College Factual’s Best Colleges Offering Degrees in Legal Professions in 2018: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/legal-studies-and-professions/rankings/top-ranked/
      5. US News Best Law Schools 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
      6. American Bar Association Approved Paralegal Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/