How to Become a Paralegal in Illinois

In most cases, an applicant will need to have a degree in Paralegal Studies to become a paralegal in Illinois. An Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree in Paralegal Studies will provide you with all of the skills you need to be an effective and extremely valuable asset to any legal firm or office. By earning your degree, you learn from educators who have years of experience and are able to add depth to the work experience you may already have.

When it comes time to graduate, students who have earned their Paralegal Studies degree can apply for positions that will allow them an opportunity to not only pursue their career but grow and advance as well. Continuing education and certification courses can be taken to keep the student’s skills and knowledge as up to date and current as possible. Having a degree and becoming certified through a national organization like NALA, proves to employers that you have the skills and knowledge they are looking for in a good paralegal.

Do I Need a Degree in Paralegal Studies

In most cases, the answer is yes. An Associates, Bachelors, or Masters degree in Paralegal Studies will provide you with all of the skills you need to be an effective and extremely valuable asset to any legal firm or office. By earning your degree, you learn from educators who have years of experience and are able to add depth to the work experience you may already have. For some students, completing a Certification program through their local college may be all that they need to earn a job as a paralegal. Receiving an actual degree, however, goes a step further and prepares them for possible opportunities for advancement in the future.

When it comes time to graduate, students who have earned their Paralegal Studies degree can apply for positions that will allow them an opportunity to not only pursue their career but grow and advance as well. Continuing education and certification courses can be taken to keep the student’s skills and knowledge as up to date and current as possible. A specific number of continuing education courses are needed each year depending on the type of certification you have.

Work Experience

In order to become a Paralegal in the state of Illinois, you will need to have some type of work experience within the legal field. In most cases, paralegals actually start out in other positions and learn how the legal office works. As they continue to learn more and more about the legal process and the types of tasks that are involved, the individual may begin to take on more responsibility. Returning to school and earning a degree will support the lessons and experience that are gained by working hands-on in the legal field.

Work experience offers a type of learning that cannot be achieved in a classroom. Learning by actually doing, reinforces the lessons learned from online or conventional degree programs and provides insight into the subtle nuances that make being a paralegal so interesting and rewarding. Experience is an extremely valuable tool and will offer an individual the ability to prove themselves over and over again. Many paralegals actually start their career is a receptionist or file clerk and begin to make advancements by performing additional tasks. This gradual transition from one position to another builds a solid foundation that may eventually lead to a higher-paying, more focused role as a supervisor or manager.

Additional Requirements

In the state of Illinois, to become a paralegal you must meet specific requirements. One of the most important is that you pass a criminal background check. When working in the legal field as a paralegal, or in any other capacity, you are held to a high moral standard. Background checks are performed to ensure that both you and the company hiring you are on the same page when it comes to ethics, standards, and values.

Although it is not a strict requirement, the Illinois State Bar Association as well as groups like NALA, encourage paralegals to join national organizations that have been recognized for their strict and unwavering commitment to upholding the ethics and moral standards that the legal profession abides by. Becoming a member of one of these reputable organizations proves that you have met the educational standards needed to perform the duties of a paralegal effectively. It also ensures that you have been taught and thoroughly understand the strict rules and regulations within which the legal field operates.

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