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Paralegal Studies Degree Program
Although they are not attorneys themselves, paralegals play an important role in helping attorneys with substantive legal work. Paralegals work for individual attorneys, law firms, corporations, government offices and other settings — wherever there is a need for their skills and knowledge.
What Is Paralegal Studies?
Paralegal studies degree programs are designed to give students the information and hands-on training they need to be able to join the workforce as paralegals right after graduation. At MacCormac College, our paralegal studies degree program includes coursework and practical education that allows students to develop their critical thinking, legal research, legal writing, active listening and other skills that paralegals need to use every day.
Why Consider Earning a Paralegal Degree?
If you’re considering pursuing a career as a paralegal, obtaining a formal education and earning your associate degree is a smart move. Employers often prefer candidates who can demonstrate their commitment to earning their associate degrees over candidates without degrees.
Earning your Associate of Science degree in Paralegal Studies from MacCormac College shows prospective employers that you have learned the skills you need to hit the ground running and be a successful member of their legal team. While some paralegal certificate programs may be enticing because they allow you to obtain a certificate faster than earning your degree, certificate programs do not mean you are a certified paralegal. Graduating from an accredited paralegal studies school, like MacCormac College's Paralegal Studies degree program, is the first step to becoming certified and can give you a more solid foundation on which to build your career.
What’s Involved in Earning Your Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies?
Our paralegal studies program generally takes students two years to complete. You will complete paralegal courses that will teach you how to:
- Understand legal terms so you can communicate effectively with the attorneys you'll be supporting, with clients and with the courts, as applicable in your role.
- Prepare legal documents correctly and efficiently.
- Conduct thorough legal research using traditional law library resources as well as the latest legal technology research tools.
- Use critical thinking and analysis skills to spot legal issues.
- Support attorneys with trial preparation, preparing for administrative motions, hearings and more.
- Hone your legal writing skills.
- Identify potential ethical issues that can arise for practicing paralegals, and help you find ways to address them.
To see specific required paralegal courses, including major courses and general education requirements, see our paralegal studies program course outline.
An Exciting Career With the Potential to Work in Many Industries
Earning your associate degree in paralegal studies gives you a significant amount of flexibility. A paralegal education is incredibly versatile — allowing you to look for work in a variety of settings and industries. While many paralegals work in large law firms supporting attorneys in "traditional" legal roles, paralegals also work in numerous other settings, including:
- Private companies, partnerships and corporations
- Public companies — large and small
- Insurance companies
- Real estate offices
- Title companies and abstract offices
- Banks and credit unions
- Financial services organizations
- Not-for-profit businesses and foundations
- Legal aid societies
- Federal, state and local government offices
- Law firms of all sizes, including solo practitioners
As you can see, paralegals can find work in almost any industry.
Enjoy a Favorable Employment Outlook
Because paralegals enjoy such versatility with their career options, the employment outlook is generally positive. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics employment for paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is significantly greater than the "all occupations" average.
Median pay for paralegals across the country in 2017 was $50,410 per year. In Illinois, the average was more than 10 percent higher than the national median, at $56,990 per year, with Illinois paralegals in the top 10 percent earning $85,260 in 2017.
MacCormac College Can Help Prepare You for Future Success
Of course, there are many educational institutions offering paralegal studies associate degree programs. There's a reason why MacCormac College enjoys a positive reputation and relationship with the legal community in the greater Chicago area. Our program stands apart from the competition for several reasons:
- Accredited and approved program: Our paralegal studies program is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and has been approved by the American Bar Association. This gives both students and potential employers confidence in the education we provide.
- Program history: Paralegal studies is not a new program for MacCormac College. In fact, we have been teaching paralegal studies courses since 1973, and our associate degree program is the oldest two-year paralegal studies program in Illinois. Simply put, we have a solid track record and we're proud of our graduates who work in and around Chicago, and across the country.
- Class sizes designed to maximize your success: We understand that giant lecture halls filled with hundreds of students are not always conducive to learning. That's why we offer small class sizes designed to provide one-on-one student/teacher interaction.
- Flexibility to complete your degree on your schedule: We also know that it's not always possible to attend classes offered on a traditional weekday schedule. That's why we have both daytime and evening classes, and offer classes year-round. Motivated students who want to attend classes on a full-time basis all year can complete their associate degree in as little as 16 months.
- Well-qualified instructors: At MacCormac College, our paralegal studies program provides hands-on learning, facilitated by faculty members who are all licensed, practicing attorneys themselves, specializing in the topics they teach. This means you can be confident you are learning the real-world skills you will need when you enter the legal profession after graduation.
- Internship opportunities: Our paralegal studies program also gives students the opportunity to complete internships in in-demand areas. These supervised internships can help you become more confident in your skills and abilities, gain valuable experience that can make you more attractive to future employers, and help you define your career goals.
Paralegal Degree Program Goals
MacCormac College is committed to ensuring our paralegal studies program remains relevant and competitive. To do so, we are committed to pursuing academic excellence, continuing to offer hands-on, practical internship opportunities for students, and challenging students through innovative coursework designed to engage students both inside the classroom and in the greater legal community. Our primary program goals are to:
- Attract and retain motivated students who are ready to take on the challenge of becoming paralegals.
- Recruit, hire and retain qualified faculty who are capable of, and prepared to, position our students for future success in the legal profession.
- Facilitate critical thinking, effective communication and organizational skills in our student body.
- Encourage our student body to become engaged in, and to give back to, the greater Chicagoland community by volunteering their time and talents, taking advantage of internship and externship opportunities, and participating in networking events.
- Ensure our curriculum is up to date and reflects the latest changes and trends in the paralegal community.
Graduate With the Skills You Need to Succeed
Students who successfully complete MacCormac College's Paralegal Studies degree program earn their Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies degree. Your time at MacCormac College will be about much more than earning your degree, however. Our mission is to prepare students by giving them the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully meet the needs of the legal community. By the time you graduate, you will understand basic legal terminology and procedures, be able to navigate client interactions and spot potential ethical pitfalls, draft effective legal documents, and be proficient in conducting thorough legal research for both basic and more complex legal matters.
We are committed to providing a superior academic program, promoting responsible citizenship, and encouraging the pursuit of lifelong learning.