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Career-changer finds success in law career

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Aug 30, 2022

Elizabeth Cannon set her sights on becoming a graphic designer with an education from College of Lake County (CLC) after graduating high school in 2005. She’d already started her college career by taking dual credit courses during high school.

Elizabeth Cannon and Joe FuszWhile she was on this path for a couple of years, she began rethinking her aspirations. Cannon took a simple job at a collections law firm just to pay the bills, but then discovered working in law was the career for her.

Cannon was already exploring career options at CLC at this time hoping to find a new job that better suited her.

“CLC offers such a wide range of course options,” she said. “I took everything from figure drawing to logic classes. Not only did I enjoy them all, but they were helpful, too.”

Cannon’s new job gave her the push and confidence to finally attempt a new degree path. Once she realized that CLC offered a degree in legal studies, she changed her major in 2011.

“Anyone that doesn’t find the right career on their first attempt may get shy and slow down,” Cannon said. “For me, changing was the perfect call, and I found my dream job.”

Cannon’s favorite part of the program was having faculty who were currently practicing attorneys in Lake County. They were able to offer knowledge unique to the area.

“I didn’t just learn from instructors, but from industry professionals,” she said. “They know what employers are looking for, and they teach with that mindset.”

After graduating from CLC, Cannon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration in August 2018 from Columbia College of Missouri, taking courses at the satellite campus in Gurnee. Thanks to a transfer agreement they have with CLC, all her credits transferred, and she was able to finish quickly.

Cannon worked for the Law Office of Marjorie Sher in Waukegan until 2018 while earning her bachelor’s degree. She then took a position as a paralegal with the Cook County State’s Attorney where she works today.

Cannon is set to graduate with a law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law in December. She chose the school because many of her CLC instructors earned their degrees from there, and she saw how successful they became.

Though still a student, Cannon routinely attends Lake County Bar Association networking events. It not only gives her the chance to meet up with her former teachers, but also network in the area she hopes to return to after graduating and taking the bar exam in February.

“Elizabeth is a really engaged networker,” said CLC legal studies faculty member and Chief of Cyber Crimes and Special Investigations with the Lake County State’s Attorney Office Joe Fusz, Cannon’s former instructor whom she often sees at the events. “If she’s not talking, she’s listening. She’s confident speaking to anyone, whether they’re a judge or an attorney.”

With an end goal of working in criminal defense, Cannon wants to work in a prosecutor's office to gain a better understanding of the legal system.

“I tell my students they can be life-long learners and try different things,” Fusz said. “They can be successful if they take advantage of their opportunities. Elizabeth is someone who has gone above and beyond in all her opportunities, and she’s going to be very successful because of that.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.