The American Bar Association (ABA) re-approved the Legal Studies Program at Illinois State University after a lengthy, ongoing review process.

With the decision of the ABA House of Delegates, Illinois State was granted its second consecutive seven-year approval. Additionally, the approval makes Illinois State University one of only two public universities in Illinois to offer an ABA approved paralegal education program.

Students graduating from an ABA approved program have an advantage over graduates without this designation. “Some employers in major markets won’t consider applicants from a non-approved program,” said Director of Legal Studies, Professor, and Attorney Thomas McClure. “Maintaining the ABA approval is a tremendous amount of work on an on-going basis, but it’s an advantage for our students.”

Students in the program can earn a four-year degree in legal studies with a paralegal certificate, or just a paralegal certificate if the student already has a bachelor’s degree. Students from Illinois State’s program have gone on to work for a number of State’s Attorney’s Offices, including McLean County; the U.S. Department of The Treasury; as well as many local-, Chicago-, and Washington D.C.-based law firms.

The Illinois State legal studies program began in the mid-1970s. The first ABA approval for the program was in 2010 under the direction of McClure. To maintain ABA approval, the program must meet a strict set of guidelines to ensure a high-quality education. The approval process involves several steps including self-evaluation reports, an onsite evaluation of the program to verify compliance of ABA guidelines, and consideration by the ABA Standing Committee.

“Receiving approval and re-approval from the ABA is a recognition of the excellence of our Legal Studies Program,” said Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics and Government T.Y. Wang. “Only an elite program receives this designation.”