SSC has the only American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal program in the south suburban Chicago region, giving graduates a huge advantage when entering the workforce. The college also requires that all of the instructors in the program are lawyers or judges to ensure the quality of instruction.
I love the law, and the fact that all of my students share the same passion makes each day in class, fun and enjoyable. It’s very easy to teach students who are engaged, focused and prepared. I believe they feed off of my enthusiasm, and I feed off of theirs.
Program Coordinator Jason M. Cieslik, J.D.
The Paralegal/Legal Assistant Program is actually two curriculum programs, a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree career program and a Certificate Program, available to those persons possessing a baccalaureate or an associate of arts degree from an accredited post-secondary institution. Both curriculums are designed to prepare a student to become a highly trained legal assistant. The program is approved by the American Bar Association. South Suburban College is also an institutional member of the American Association for Paralegal Education.
The mission of the program is to:
- To provide a strong, flexible program for the quality education for the training of occupationally competent paralegals/legal assistants through a curriculum that provides a balance of legal theory, practical skills, and practical experience resulting in highly trained paralegals qualified to work under the supervision of an attorney in a variety of legal and law-related environments.
- We also seek to promote both the paralegal profession generally as well as the professionalism of paralegals/legal assistants with the result of increasing the ways paralegals/legal assistants can be of service to the legal profession.
Forward all high school and college transcripts directly to the Office of Admissions and Records. A person can take paralegal classes without being in the paralegal program. However, a person must be in the paralegal program in order to take any of the legal research and writing classes and the internship class.
To be accepted into the Paralegal program, students must have a high school diploma or High School Equivalency (HSE) and must complete the following:
- an application for admission to the program,
- successfully complete ENG 101, PLA 101 and BLW 201 with a grade point of 2.66,
- complete a resume,
- submit three letters of reference and copies of all college transcripts to the Program Coordinator.
Upon completion of the above requirements, schedule a personal interview with the Program Coordinator.
If you have met the above requirements for admission and wish to apply to the Paralegal/Legal Assistant program, present a completed application package to the program coordinator at the time of your interview.
Frequently Asked Questions
Emphasis is placed on the development of core skills in legal research techniques, compilation and analysis of data, understanding legal vocabulary, preparation of legal documents, and critical thinking. A student that successfully completes the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Degree or Certificate will have done so after demonstrating adequate skills in each of the following competencies:
- knowledge of the various functions and roles of a paralegal;
- knowledge of the ethics and professional responsibility of attorneys and paralegals;
- knowledge of legal terminology;
- knowledge of the various court systems;
- knowledge of evidence and investigations;
- proficiency in manual and computerized legal research;
- proficiency in legal writing and analysis;
- knowledge of how the law office operates;
- successful completion of an approved internship;
- an appreciation and understanding for the importance of continuing legal education; and
- ability to apply paralegal skills in potential areas of practice, such as but not limited to: Alternative dispute resolution,
- civil and criminal litigation,
- domestic relations,
- probate and estate planning,
- real estate,
- contracts and commercial transactions,
- law office management, and
- legal research and writing
- Demonstrate effective legal knowledge and practical skills necessary to perform substantive legal work under the direction of an attorney.
- Demonstrate appropriate paralegal skill development and professionalism through practical experience.
- Demonstrate an understanding of ethical responsibilities in the legal profession.
- Analyze and synthesize clearly complex information, both in writing and verbally, in an organized and logical manner.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the technology necessary to meet employer needs.
- Articulation of the paralegal role in the delivery of legal services to the public.
- Maintain equality of opportunity in the educational program without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, or sex.
The curriculum provides a balance of legal-specialty courses, courses in special topics, and general education requirements that gives students a base upon which they can communicate effectively with clients as well as the public and people in the legal system. Legal specialty courses are offered primarily in the evening to accommodate those with daytime jobs and family responsibilities.
Legal theory and practical experience are extensively combined in each of the legal specialty courses. For example: In PLA 202, Litigation, students conduct interviews and draft pleadings; in PLA 203 and 205, students draft an intra-office memorandum; and in PLA 209, Estate Planning and Probate, students draft a will and open an estate. These are just a few examples; all legal specialty courses have practical assignments.
The internship, PLA 204, requires students to work 210 hours as a volunteer in a law office or other legal environment. Actual cases are handled, involving all aspects of the practice of law, from confidentiality to public trials. The student then uses the internship experience as “work experience” when writing a resume and during classroom and real employment interviews.
The curriculum is kept current by securing input from the legal community, via the Advisory Board Meetings, monitoring of the internship sites, input from students, and input from the full-time and adjunct faculty. The legal specialty courses are taught almost exclusively by practicing attorneys and judges and they provide continuous input.
The program adheres to the school’s affirmative action policy which requires equality of opportunity without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, or sex.
If you are planning on entering into the legal profession or have worked in the profession for years, the South Suburban College the Paralegal/Legal Assistant program is structured to help you meet your goals. South Suburban College provides you with choices. You may:
- Take one or more courses to advance your skills in a specific legal area,
- Pursue the Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies, or
- Go beyond your baccalaureate or A.A. degree and attain a Certificate in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies.
You will learn at your own pace, you may take either curriculum part-time or full-time. You may take one class a semester or up to six classes a semester. All paralegal classes are offered at night with some classes offered during the day and some also offered online.