Paralegal Schools in Chicago, IL [2021 Updated]
Are you interested in working in the legal profession but not ready or able to commit to several long, expensive years of law school? Becoming a paralegal may be the alternative you are looking for. Paralegal programs provide the training they need to assist in the efficient delivery of legal services, under the supervision of an attorney.
Paralegals in Chicago, Illinois and across the nation are far more than administrative assistants with legal knowledge (in fact many paralegals supervise a team of such people). As law firms aim to minimize the expense of providing their clients with professional legal services, they are constantly searching for skilled and trained paralegals to take on more of their case-load duties than ever before.
There are also great opportunities for skilled paralegals outside a traditional law firm setting, in government jobs, working with charities and non-profits and more.
Featured Paralegal Programs in Illinois
Job Outlook and Salaries for Paralegals in Chicago
The paralegal field is an increasingly well paid one too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary paid to a paralegal in Chicago in 2020 was $59,960 per annum. Entry level paralegals averaged annual earnings of $35,270 while the most experienced paralegals earned over $85,000 a year.
There are no legal requirements or education minimums to work as a paralegal in Illinois. However, as managing attorneys must supervise their work, and are themselves ultimately responsible for all the work their paralegal staff perform - including legally responsible - most employers prefer to hire formally educated staff.
Many large law firms prefer those paralegal candidates with a suitable degree, while smaller firms and others often consider those with a career diploma or certificate for entry level positions.
Paralegal Schools in Chicago
The prestigious Roosevelt University has offered a Bachelors Degree in Paralegal Studies for over 45 years, making it one of the oldest such programs in the country.
This four-year degree program is campus based, and admission is competitive. Typical four-year college admissions standards apply, including minimum SAT scores and a successful personal interview.
For those who are admitted to the program their paralegal education is rounded and extensive, and they are given an opportunity to intern with a local employer, including with a number of large corporate law firms in the Chicago area.
The University also offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal studies that is being offered which specializes in civil litigation for those that are degree holders of another discipline.
The costs associated with the program vary according to a student's individual circumstances. Traditional financial aid is available to those who qualify and is the usual way the program's students pay for their education.
College of DuPage
The College of Dupage offers a paralegal studies program that is one of a small number of such offerings that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). It is a career focused AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies, that can then be followed on from with the attainment of a graduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies should a student choose to take their formal paralegal education even further.
The AAS Degree Program is a campus based two-year degree that places a heavy focus on the practical application of classroom learning in a real word setting via both field trips and internships with real world employees.
The AAS degree programs of 67 credit hours costs $9,380 or $9,800 for the 70 credit hours, however if you've already completed a college degree the cost for the certificate program of 36 credit hours is $5,040.
Admissions are based on academic record and personal interviews. The cost of the degree is covered by most students via traditional federal financial aid.
The prestigious Loyola University offers a BA Program in Paralegal Studies comprising of 120 credit hours and takes four years of schooling. Students will develop skills in litigation and corporate practice areas as well as legal research, analysis, and writing, legal ethics and law office technology.
Classes are offered with evening and Saturday morning options.
Entrance to the program is competitive and is based on academic history and personal interviews. Successful candidates undertake four years of campus-based learning as well as an internship with a local employer, often a large white shoe law firm.
The cost of the program varies according to student circumstance, but most students meet it via traditional financial aid.
Oakton Community College
As a community college, Oakton offers area residents access to high quality but affordable tuition at the diploma and Associate Degree levels. For those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer both an ASS degree in Paralegal Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies that graduates of the former program can choose to progress to in order to advance their knowledge of their new career.
The campus based two-year degree program is designed for those who have a high school diploma or GED and can meet minimum standards in English and Math. It offers a broad overview of the knowledge needed to become a paralegal as well as the strict ethics paralegals are held to. This program is one of a handful of paralegal programs approved by the American Bar Association.
To pay for college most students take advantage of federal and state financial aid funds and loans. The cost of the Paralegal Program is charged on a per-credit basis, with that cost being determined according to a student's residency, personal situation, and eligibility for various grants.
Wilbur Wright College
As part of the City Colleges of Chicago System Wilbur Wright College offers residents the chance to complete a wide range of educational programs at an affordable cost, including a two-year AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies that is one of the few such offerings in Illinois approved by the American Bar Association.
The degree program, which focuses on classroom campus based learning and real-world experience with local employers, gives students the legal knowledge needed to succeed in an entry level paralegal position as well as help in developing the high-level research skills and professional ethics that are the hallmark of a great paralegal.
To be admitted to the program students must hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational requirements (English 101 and college level math). A limited number of applicants are accepted at the beginning of each standard semester and this is a competitive program.
For those students who are admitted to the degree program the cost of their education is charged on a per-credit basis, with that cost being determined by their personal circumstances, their residency, and their eligibility for various available grants. Most students can make use of Federal financial aid to pay for school or consider taking a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae.
Elgin Community College
Elgin Community College offers a wide range of programs of study for local residents, including two options for those interested in becoming a paralegal.
Adult students who have already earned their degree - either at Associate or bachelor's level - can make a career switch into the paralegal field via the Paralegal Certificate offered at Elgin. This program bypasses the more stringent academic requirements of an AAS degree - as they have already completed them - and focuses solely on legal issues and program content.
Most students however begin with the two-year campus classroom based AAS degree in Paralegal Studies. This program provides them with both the knowledge, skills, and real-world experience - via local internships - needed to succeed as an entry level paralegal and the general education courses required to complete a full degree. Minimum entrance requirements include holding a high school diploma or GED and meeting minimum.
Most enrolled students meet the cost of both courses via federal financial aid. Final costs are dependent on a student's personal circumstances and are determined as a part of the admissions process.
Robert Morris University Illinois
As a not-for-profit community college Robert Morris University Illinois offers a wide range of educational programs at a reduced cost to area residents. As a part of those offerings the school offers two American Bar Association approved paralegal programs.
The Robert Morris University Illinois Paralegal Certificate option is designed for those who already hold an Associate's or Bachelors degree and need additional education to become a paralegal, while the AAS degree program is designed for high school graduates and others just entering the world of higher education.
The AAS in Paralegal Studies offered by Robert Morris University Illinois is a campus based two-year program. Coursework included legal focused classroom learning, required general education modules and real-world experience in the form of field trip days - and eventually an internship - with local employers. To be admitted to the degree program students must hold a high school diploma and meet minimum educational requirements as set by the school.
The cost of both programs is determined on a per-credit basis. That cost is determined by a student's personal circumstances and is determined during the admissions process. Most students meet their costs via traditional financial aid and a limited number of available grants. Those who do not qualify for financial aid can choose to take a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae.
College of Lake County
Among the many career focused degree and diploma programs offered by the private, no profit College of Lake County is a 2-year AAS Degree in Legal Studies, a program that is approved by the American Bar Association as one that is suitable for providing a good foundation for those hoping to become a paralegal.
Even prior to the pandemic the College of Lake County offered this program as a hybrid learning experience, with much of the required coursework completed online. The curriculum covers the basics of general law, legal ethics, legal research and other skills and knowledge students will need to succeed as an entry level paralegal. An internship with a local employer, as arranged by the school, is a requirement for graduation.
To enroll in the AAS program students must hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational standards as set by the school. A personal interview is also required.
The cost of the program is charged on a per credit basis. Tuition is lowest for residents of the immediate district and is charged at $125 per credit hour for those living with their parents, and $135 per credit hour for independent students. Illinois residents outside the 532 District are charged at a rate of $325/$335 per credit hour. The AAS Degree Program is a 60-credit course.
Most students pay for their education via Federal financial aid, and may be eligible for reduced tuition and grants, something that is discussed during their admissions interview.
MacCormac College is the oldest 2-year private college in the Chicago area and enjoys an excellent reputation for providing high quality education at an affordable cost. For those interested in working as a paralegal, they offer an Associate of Science in paralegal Studies degree program that can be completed in as little as 16 months.
To provide flexibility for adult students, the school offers both full time campus-based learning and hybrid evening class and online learning. The course takes slightly longer to complete for hybrid program students, but they can still graduate in less than two years.
The MacCormac College paralegal studies AS degree covers the basic legal knowledge required to successfully work as an entry level paralegal and place a special focus on the legal research skills a good paralegal is expected to demonstrate. A school arranged internship with a local employer is also a course component and required for graduation.
While costs vary for individual students the school estimates that for 2021 the yearly average cost of the program will break down as follows. It should be noted that the Paralegal degree program is considered a two-year program, even if completed in a shorter time.
Student Fees: $1,520
Students can make use of Federal financial aid if they qualify to help pay for their degree or take a private student loan from a lender such as Sallie Mae.