Getting a Paralegal Degree in Chicago
Getting an education to become a paralegal or legal assistant in Chicago can a great way to be able to work in the legal system without necessarily having to do all the work involved in becoming a lawyer. You could be working and learning alongside lawyers, be involved in the same cases and in many of the same activities as lawyers, but avoid the lengthy — and often costly — educational process involved in getting a legal degree and passing the bar exam.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking becoming a lawyer here. I think that there are many positives in practicing law; however, the education necessary to do so isn’t for everyone, and sometimes there are shorter ways to the kind of work we’d like to be doing, and for those interested in the legal field, a shorter in length degree or certification program in paralegal studies could be the perfect option.
Why Get a Paralegal Degree in Chicago?
There are a variety of ways in which you might obtain a paralegal education in Chicago. You may decide that it’s most beneficial to you get some on the first-hand experience actually working in the field, since a degree is not necessarily a requirement for working within the field. However, many employers might first want some level of experience and education, so undertaking a certification program or two-year associate’s degree might be a more attractive option.
Once you’ve obtained your educational background and find yourself out in the working world, there are any number of duties and responsibilities you could find yourself undertaking as a paralegal or legal assistant. While you won’t be able to dispense legal advice, you could be doing research for lawyers, organizing and maintaining legal documents, conducting interviews with clients, preparing documents for trial, and all sorts of other research, organizational and office-related duties.
Knowing Which Program is Best for Your Needs
With a paralegal or legal assistant role, much of the education will take place once you’ve obtained a position with an employer and are out practicing your trade. However, to actually get that role, you might need some sort of educational background in the field.
This is where the real decision-making process can come into play. Will you go for a full-on bachelor’s degree or undertake a shorter-term associate’s degree or certification program in the field? Will you go to a brick-and-mortar classroom for your education in the Chicago area, or will you choose to get a paralegal degree online? And once you’ve made these decisions, which program will you select as the one that matches your needs best?
Well, the answers to these questions really depend on a variety of aspects relating to your personal situation. If you already have experience in the field or a four-year degree in other subject matter and are looking to move up to a better position or employer, maybe a shorter certification will be right for you. If you’re already working or have family obligations that prevent you from getting to the classroom on a regular basis, then many an online education is more convenient.
Whatever your situation or preferences, our site provides you with the tools to sort more than 500 accredited schools and certificate programs, finding schools by location, program type, degree, and similar criteria.
Paralegal Career Outlook
With relatively lower entry-level educational standards, and limited previous experience in related occupations or on-the-job training requirements necessary for moving into a paralegal role as compared to certain other roles within the legal field, the pay is actually pretty competitive According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for paralegals and legal assistants in 2010 was $46,680, and the job growth outlook for 2010-20 was competitive with other occupations at an 18 percent rate, which is actually about 4 percent higher than the growth rate for all occupations.
On a more local scale, according to the BLS Occupational Employment and Wages report for May 2011, Illinois ranked as the fifth top paying state for paralegals and legal assistants with an annual mean wage of $53,640.