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Career and Education Opportunities for Legal Assistants in Chicago, Illinois

For those living in the Chicago, Illinois area, there are many career and education opportunities for legal assistants. Currently, 8,050 people work as legal assistants in Illinois. This is expected to grow 22% to about 9,850 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for legal assistants are expected to grow by about 28.1%. In general, legal assistants assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents.

Legal assistants earn about $24 hourly or $51,090 per year on average in Illinois and about $22 per hour or $46,120 annually on average nationally. Incomes for legal assistants are better than in the overall category of Administration and Support in Illinois, and better than the overall Administration and Support category nationally. Jobs in this field include: corporate paralegal, probate paralegal, and immigration specialist.

There are twelve schools within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can study to be a legal assistant, among 180 schools of higher education total in the Chicago area. Legal assistants usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a legal assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Legal Assistant

Legal Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, legal assistants assist lawyers by researching legal precedent, investigating facts, or preparing legal documents. They also conduct research to support a legal proceeding, to formulate a defense, or to initiate legal action.

Legal assistants ready affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system. They also ready legal documents and real estate closing statements. Finally, legal assistants meet with clients and other professionals to consider specifics of case.

Every day, legal assistants are expected to be able to read and understand documents and reports. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they see details at a very fine level of focus.

It is important for legal assistants to gather and analyze research data, such as statutes and legal articles, codes, and documents. They are often called upon to get ready for trial by performing tasks such as organizing exhibits. They also file pleadings with court clerk. They are sometimes expected to direct and schedule law office activity, including delivery of subpoenas. Somewhat less frequently, legal assistants are also expected to appraise and inventory real and personal property for estate planning.

They also have to be able to investigate facts and law of cases and search pertinent sources and call upon witnesses to testify at hearing. And finally, they sometimes have to ready affidavits or other documents, such as legal correspondence, and organize and maintain documents in paper or electronic filing system.

Like many other jobs, legal assistants must be thorough and dependable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Court Reporter. Use verbatim methods and equipment to capture, store, and transcribe pretrial and trial proceedings or other information. Includes stenocaptioners who operate computerized stenographic captioning equipment to provide captions of live or prerecorded broadcasts for hearing-impaired viewers.
  • Lawyer. Represent clients in criminal and civil litigation and other legal proceedings, draw up legal documents, and manage or advise clients on legal transactions. May specialize in a single area or may practice broadly in many areas of law.
  • Paralegal. Assist lawyers or judges by researching or preparing legal documents. May meet with clients or assist lawyers and judges in court.
  • Title Examiner. Search real estate records, examine titles, or summarize pertinent legal or insurance details for a variety of purposes. May compile lists of mortgages, contracts, and other instruments pertaining to titles by searching public and private records for law firms, real estate agencies, or title insurance companies.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Legal Assistant Training

Brown Mackie College-Merrillville - Merrillville, IN

Brown Mackie College-Merrillville, 1000 E 80th Place, Suite 101N, Merrillville, IN 46410. Brown Mackie College-Merrillville is a small college located in Merrillville, Indiana. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 780 students. Brown Mackie College-Merrillville has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated five and sixteen students respectively in 2008.

Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus - Bridgeview, IL

Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus, 7725 South Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview, IL 60455. Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus is a small college located in Bridgeview, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 995 students and an admission rate of 90%. Northwestern College-Southwestern Campus has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated eighteen and thirty-three students respectively in 2008.

Ellis University - Chicago, IL

Ellis University, 111 N Canal St Ste 380, Chicago, IL 60606. Ellis University is a small university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 2,692 students. Ellis University has an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal.

Roosevelt University - Chicago, IL

Roosevelt University, 430 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605-1394. Roosevelt University is a medium sized university located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,708 students and an admission rate of 43%. Roosevelt University has a bachelor's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal.

College of Lake County - Grayslake, IL

College of Lake County, 19351 W Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030-1198. College of Lake County is a large college located in Grayslake, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 16,359 students. College of Lake County has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated fifty-three and nine students respectively in 2008.

Harper College - Palatine, IL

Harper College, 1200 W Algonquin Rd, Palatine, IL 60067-7398. Harper College is a large college located in Palatine, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 15,250 students. Harper College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated seventy and fifteen students respectively in 2008.

Robert Morris College - Chicago, IL

Robert Morris College, 401 S State Street, Chicago, IL 60605. Robert Morris College is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,555 students and an admission rate of 79%. Robert Morris College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated eighty-eight and sixty-eight students respectively in 2008.

MacCormac College - Chicago, IL

MacCormac College, 29 E. Madison, Chicago, IL 60602-4405. MacCormac College is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs and has 163 students. MacCormac College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated zero and one students respectively in 2008.

South Suburban College - South Holland, IL

South Suburban College, 15800 South State Street, South Holland, IL 60473-1200. South Suburban College is a medium sized college located in South Holland, Illinois. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,105 students. South Suburban College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated one and fourteen students respectively in 2008.

Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest - Gary, IN

Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest, 1440 E 35th Ave, Gary, IN 46409-1499. Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest is a medium sized college located in Gary, Indiana. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,701 students. Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest has an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated seven students in 2008.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph - Whiting, IN

Calumet College of Saint Joseph, 2400 New York Ave, Whiting, IN 46394. Calumet College of Saint Joseph is a small college located in Whiting, Indiana. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,147 students. Calumet College of Saint Joseph has one to two year, associate's degree, and bachelor's degree programs in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated zero, four, and four students respectively in 2008.

Nothwestern College - Chicago, IL

Nothwestern College, 4829 North Lipps Avenue, Chicago, IL 60630. Nothwestern College is a small college located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 847 students and an admission rate of 83%. Nothwestern College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Legal Assistant/Paralegal which graduated six and forty students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Legal Assistant: The CLA examination is divided into five sections.

For more information, see the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. website.

Certified Legal Investigator: The National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc.

For more information, see the National Association of Legal Investigators website.

Certified Legal Video Specialist: The use of video in the legal environment is growing fast.

For more information, see the National Court Reporters Association website.

Certified Broadcast Captioner: Prove you're on the cutting edge.

For more information, see the National Court Reporters Association website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.