According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Chicago area has the third largest employment for paralegal jobs in the nation, and the mean wage was $58,840 in 2017. Statewide, the annual mean wage for paralegals and legal assistants in the state of Illinois was $56,990.

Oakton Community College’s paralegal studies program has been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) through August 2025 and provides students a career path to work in paralegal or legal assistant roles in a variety of legal settings such as law, business or government.

“Achieving ABA approval represents an important milestone for Oakton’s program, as it’s considered the ‘gold standard’ in terms of quality endorsements for paralegal studies programs nationwide,” says Dean of Skokie and Dean of Business and Career Technologies Bradley P. Wooten.

Oakton’s paralegal studies program offers a 60-credit-hour associate in applied science degree in paralegal studies in addition to a 24-credit-hours paralegal certificate. Both programs provide students with effective legal knowledge and practical skills necessary to perform substantive legal work, but only under the direction of a licensed attorney.

“Oakton is committed to preparing its students for successful careers in the legal profession, providing a well-rounded education and meeting the needs of the local legal community,” says Merilee K. Slipenko, Esq., chair and professor of paralegal studies.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, the program has grown from seven students to more than 100 each year. Graduates earn associate degrees after completing courses in procedural and substantive law in areas such as litigation, property, tort, estate planning, the environment and contracts as well as practical paralegal skills such as research, writing and management.