State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Paralegal Job Description in Illinois

While Illinois has no laws regarding the employment of paralegals in the state, the Illinois Paralegal Association (IPA) has drafted a publication entitled “Responsibilities of the Professional Paralegal” outlining expectations for paralegals working in Illinois. They have also created a Code of Ethics to which their members must adhere. These documents address many issues that may be of concern to Illinois paralegals working in various situations, including banking, corporations and law firms. If you would like to learn how to become a paralegal in Illinois, please keep reading.
 

Step 1

Attain Paralegal Education in Illinois

There are no laws or statutes regarding mandatory paralegal education for Illinois paralegals.

Illinois Paralegal Online and Campus Schools

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Educational programs exist at the American Bar Association-accredited (ABA) and non-accredited levels. There are few differences between the two types of programs, with the exception that some employers and national certification organizations prefer paralegals who are graduates of ABA accredited programs. Paralegal programs in Illinois that are not accredited by the ABA include:

Illinois paralegal programs that do hold ABA accreditation include:

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Step 2

Acquire Paralegal Work Experience in Illinois

If you attend an ABA-accredited paralegal education program in Illinois, chances are you will be expected to complete a work experience internship. If you are not, it is a good idea to pursue volunteer paralegal work experience on your own. Not only will it look good to potential future employers that you volunteered your time to help those less fortunate, but you will also acquire valuable paralegal work experience that will help you immensely down the road. Examples of organizations with which you could volunteer in Illinois include:

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Step 3

Illinois Accredited Paralegal (ILAP), If Desired

The Illinois Paralegal Association (IPA) has a voluntary accreditation program for its members only. This credential, the Illinois Accredited Paralegal (ILAP), is not mandatory in order to practice as a paralegal in Illinois, but some employers prefer that their paralegals carry this designation. The program began in 2012 as a way to signify qualified paralegals in the state of Illinois. In addition to being a member of the Illinois Paralegal Association, you must meet at least one of these eligibility criteria:

  • Attended a college or university paralegal program accredited by the ABA
  • Have one of the following combinations of education and experience:
    • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in paralegal studies and a year of paralegal work experience
    • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in any field plus a certificate in paralegal studies and a year of paralegal work experience
    • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in any field and three years of paralegal work experience
    • An associate’s degree in paralegal studies and two years of paralegal work experience
    • An associate’s degree in any field and a certificate in paralegal studies and two years of paralegal work experience
    • An associate’s degree in any field and three years of paralegal work experience
    • A certificate in paralegal studies and four years of paralegal work experience
    • Five years of paralegal work experience
    • Be a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), Certified Paralegal (CP) or hold another paralegal credential recognized by the Illinois Paralegal Association

If the IPA accepts you as an ILAP, you must maintain that credential by completing 12 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) every year, including two hours of ethics courses

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Step 4

Find Paralegal Jobs in Illinois

Paralegals in Illinois work for a multitude of different types of companies, from industrial corporations to law firms to non-profit organizations. A few examples of potential employers of Illinois paralegals include:

  • State of Illinois – Cook County
  • Heartland Alliance - Chicago
  • Sears Holdings Corporation – Hoffman Estates
  • Walgreens Corporate - Deerfield
  • Ropes & Gray – Chicago
  • Gallagher Benefit - Schaumburg
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association – Chicago
  • McDonald’s Corporate – Oak Brook
  • Mullen, Winthers & Kollias, P.C. – Winfield
  • Ashurst LLP - Time

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Step 5

You’ve Become a Paralegal in Illinois

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off, and you are now a paralegal working in the Land of Lincoln! You might think about joining a voluntary membership organization such as the ones below. They can assist you in finding CLA if needed, networking with other paralegals, and advancing in your paralegal career in Illinois:

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