A paralegal is a person qualified by education, training, or work experience who performs legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

ECC’s ABA-approved paralegal certificate program (BVS in Paralegal) uses practical learning activities to prepare students to work in legal support positions. Students draft documents suitable for court and business transactions and use research databases to solve legal problems. If you love to research, read, and write, and you have an eye for details, a paralegal career may be the right fit for you. Strong social and communication skills are also necessary as paralegals frequently communicate with supervising attorneys, office staff, court personnel, and clients.

ABA-Approved Paralegal Certificate (BVS)

There is no paralegal program entrance requirement. Any ECC student interested in law may take paralegal courses as long as they meet the course prerequisites. Pre-law students are encouraged to consider taking paralegal courses for elective credit.

The BVS certificate program in paralegal is designed for students who want to work as paralegals. The program is 24 semester hours and can be completed in a calendar year if a student is enrolled full-time and has a degree on file. Students who do not yet have a degree may simultaneously work on their associate’s degree and the BVS in paralegal. Those students should use their elective credit hours in the AA or AS program of study to complete the BVS required paralegal courses. Students attending full-time and enrolled in both the AA and the Paralegal BVS can complete both credentials in two years.  

Official Transcripts Required 

Official transcripts of a completed bachelor’s degree, Associate in Arts, or Associate in Science degree must be provided to the college before the paralegal BVS certificate will be awarded. Students who have an AAS or have completed a substantial number of college credits (at least forty semester credit hours) may request a degree waiver by contacting the program coordinator. Degree waivers will only be reviewed when the student provides official transcripts of undergraduate coursework and the completed courses meet ABA requirements as determined by the program coordinator.

Approval

The BVS in paralegal is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Program Requirements

Paralegal Internship

All BVS students must complete a paralegal internship. ECC continues to develop resources to assist students with acquiring an internship; however, opportunities are not automatic or guaranteed. Students are responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure an internship placement. Students who are already employed in the legal field as legal assistants or paralegals or in another position that requires legal knowledge and skill may request work credit in place of an internship. Interested students should contact the paralegal instructional coordinator.


Instructional Delivery Format

All students must complete at least nine semester credits of paralegal courses (PAR) through traditional classroom instruction or synchronous online instruction. 

Capstone Portfolio

Students must collect and maintain samples of the work they complete during their paralegal studies. Each student will present a final portfolio in the PAR 239 Paralegal Capstone.

Transfer Restriction on Paralegal Courses

Only coursework from an ABA-approved paralegal program will be considered for transfer for courses with a PAR designation. A maximum of nine semester credits of paralegal coursework may be transferred to ECC. All requests for transfer credit of paralegal courses will be evaluated by the instructional coordinator for paralegal and are subject to denial for the following reasons:

  1. no comparable paralegal course offered at ECC; or
  2. failure to demonstrate the development of practical paralegal skills in the course as required by ABA Guidelines.


 

Graduates of the ECC paralegal program will demonstrate entry-level competency for employment in the local legal community by being able to:

Technology

  1. Complete Microsoft Word Certification and Microsoft Excel Certification. 
  2. Use word processing software to format professional legal documents.
  3. Mark, incorporate, and uncover document changes using redlining or blacklining. 
  4. Convert file formats, adjust file sizes, and prepare searchable PDF documents with bookmarking to comply with efiling requirements and judge preferences.
  5. eFile documents with courts and county records offices.
  6. Facilitate business video conferences.
  7. Manage workflow, communicate with team members, and update client matters using enterprise software. 

Communication

  1. Use grammar rules and proofreading principles to meet attorney expectations in legal document preparation and written communication. 
  2. Listen attentively to spoken information, without interrupting, and produce accurate, complete, and useful written summaries.
  3. Develop rapport with clients and peers through professional and friendly communication.
  4. Dress, speak, write, and act in a professional manner on the job, paying attention to details.
  5. Observe deadlines by calendaring due dates, setting advance reminders, and checking in with the legal team.
  6. Formulate questions for guidance on work-related projects and determine appropriate timing for asking those questions.

Research

  1. Locate and request medical, corporate, and other non-governmental records, using proper releases and forms.
  2. Evaluate records for relevancy to a particular fact pattern and accurately summarize record information.
  3. Obtain reliable information through internet-based factual searches.
  4. Find primary sources of law and secondary legal materials that, when considered together, inform answers to specific legal issues.
  5. Correctly read, interpret, and cite primary sources of law and secondary legal materials.

Legal Ethics

  1. Avoid claims of unauthorized practice of law by working under the supervision of a licensed attorney and not giving legal advice.
  2. Protect confidential client information and preserve attorney-client privilege in all communications.
  3. Recognize and report a potential conflict of interest to a supervising attorney.
  4. Demonstrate integrity and candor in all interactions.
  5. Safeguard client property through proper client trust account procedures.

Paralegal - Basic Vocational Specialist

Plan of Study Grid
First SemesterCredit Hours
PAR 101 Introduction to Law 3
PAR 201 Civil Litigation 3
PAR 204 Legal Research 3
CIS 241 Word Processing Applications 2
CIS 242 Spreadsheet Applications 2
 Total13
Second Semester
PAR 206 Legal Writing 3
PAR 235 Internship 1
PAR 239 Paralegal Capstone 1
Paralegal Electives 6
 Total11
 Program Total24

Paralegal Electives

Course Title Credits
PAR 108Family Law3
PAR 203Real Property Law3
PAR 205Wills, Trusts and Probate3
PAR 207Criminal Law Procedure3
PAR 223Business Entity Formation3
PAR 237Paralegal Special Topics3

Paralegal Courses

All PAR courses numbered 100 and above may be applied to the major field and elective requirement for the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees.

PAR 101 Introduction to Law (3)(3,0)

This course introduces students to the skills they need to perform substantive legal work under the direction of a licensed attorney. Students will locate and interpret cases and statutes and learn the basic structure of legal analysis. This course includes legal terminology, core grammar skills, legal citation, ethics, investigation skills, and a thorough discussion of the structure of both the federal and state judicial systems. Students will be introduced to legal technologies, including legal research databases, court databases, and case management software. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Available (2T) Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: Reading: Grade of C or better in RDG 091 or LTC 099, or satisfaction of other placement criteria. Writing: Grade of C or better in ENG 098 or LTC 099 or satisfaction of other placement criteria.+

Semester(s) Offered: Fall and Spring

PAR 108 Family Law (3)(3,0)

This course examines Illinois domestic relations law. Students are required to analyze the relevant statutes, identify tax consequences, and draft pleadings for dissolution of marriage and other family law matters. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101 or concurrent Enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall

PAR 201 Civil Litigation (3)(3,0)

This course explores civil procedure and pleading, from interviewing a client through post-trial proceedings, including discovery and file management. Students are required to prepare several written assignments. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101 or concurrent Enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall and Spring

PAR 203 Real Property Law (3)(3,0)

This course includes study of the law, procedures, and documents related to the sale and lease of real estate. The focus is on functions normally performed by a law office, lender, or title company, rather than the responsibilities of a broker or sales agent. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101 or concurrent Enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Spring

PAR 204 Legal Research (3)(3,0)

This hybrid course requires extensive independent legal research and analysis using federal and multi-state materials. Students will utilize the internet and computerized legal research subscription services supplied by the college. Instruction will focus on locating relevant, current, and authoritative legal sources. Students will use primary sources to analyze fact patterns and reach logical, well-supported conclusions. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $446 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: Prerequisite:PAR 101 or concurrent enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall and Spring

PAR 205 Wills, Trusts and Probate (3)(3,0)

This course teaches students to prepare estate planning documents, handle probate estates, transfer assets without probate, and administer trusts, under the supervision of an attorney. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101 or concurrent Enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall

PAR 206 Legal Writing (3)(3,0)

Students will learn advanced concepts related to legal writing, research, and analysis. Assignments may include client letters, objective memoranda, or drafting transactional documents. The class is designed to teach students to write and edit for the legal profession. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $446 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101, PAR 201, and PAR 204

Semester(s) Offered: Fall and Spring

PAR 207 Criminal Law Procedure (3)(3,0)

This course focuses on the Illinois criminal law statute and Constitutional rights applicable to criminal prosecutions. Students are introduced to procedures relating to arrest, investigation, and trial, and to the corrections system. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: Reading: Grade of C or better in RDG 091 or LTC 099, or satisfaction of other placement criteria. Writing: Grade of C or better in ENG 098 or LTC 099 or satisfaction of other placement criteria.

Semester(s) Offered: Spring

PAR 223 Business Entity Formation (3)(3,0)

This course focuses on the various business formation structures available under Illinois law. Students will learn about the law of agency and how it relates to business partners and formation structure. Students will research the facts and forms relevant to business entity formation and limited liability maintenance. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: Reading: Grade of C or better in RDG 091 or LTC 099, or satisfaction of other placement criteria. Writing: Grade of C or better in ENG 098 or LTC 099 or satisfaction of other placement criteria.

Semester(s) Offered: Varies

PAR 235 Internship (1-2)(0,0)

Students who are currently working in a law-related position or who have worked in a law-related position within the past 6 months, may be eligible for internship proficiency credit. Contact the program coordinator for proficiency assistance. Students who do not qualify for proficiency credit must complete a paralegal internship. All paralegal internships must be approved by the instructor or the program coordinator before the student can register for the course. The college does not place students in internship positions. Students must work on obtaining an internship position at least two months before the start of the semester in which the student plans to enroll for internship credit. The program coordinator will assist students who are unable to locate an internship independently, but the student must request assistance. All internship work must be completed under the supervision of an attorney or legal staff member. A total of 80 hours of internship is necessary for each hour of class credit. Both the AAS and the BVS require two credits of internship to graduate. Students planning to complete all 160 hours of internship in one semester should register for two credits. Students may repeat the one-credit course and complete the required 160 hours over two separate semesters. Students will be responsible for keeping a journal detailing the work they have done. Students will share their experiences with fellow interns using online discussion boards and with the course instructor through memos. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Available (2E) Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $264 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: Prerequisite: PAR 101, PAR 201, PAR 204, and consent of instructor.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall, Spring and Summer

PAR 237 Paralegal Special Topics (3)(3,0)

Application of paralegal principles to specific problems through case studies, simulation, special projects, or problem solving procedures. No topics/problem will be offered more than twice in three years. A special topic may only be taken once. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $396 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101 or concurrent Enrollment in PAR 101.

Semester(s) Offered: Varies

PAR 239 Paralegal Capstone (1)(1,0)

This course prepares students for their first paralegal job. Students will create a final portfolio and paralegal resume. The class will focus on preparing students to enter the job force with the knowledge, attitude, and skills required to exceed the expectations of their employers. The course will challenge students to apply their knowledge in client-specific situations that require integrative thinking about legal services and ethics. (1.2) Proficiency Credit Not Available Pass/No Credit Not Available.

In-District Tuition/Fees: $132 (effective 2022/23 academic year)

In-district tuition rates are subject to change based on Board approval.

Prerequisite: PAR 101, PAR 201, and PAR 204.

Semester(s) Offered: Fall and Spring