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Paralegal Schools in California
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Paralegal Schools in California

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Considering becoming a paralegal in California? You are probably living in the right state. The projected growth for jobs in the paralegal field for Californians is strong, with the Department of Labor predicting an 18% increase in the number of jobs available now through 2024.

Add to that the fact that becoming a paralegal opens up a path to a lucrative, interesting and challenging career and the prospect of doing so looks even more appealing. However, before you can work as a paralegal in California you have to make it through one paralegal schools in California that offer the education you need. And doing that is what we're going to look at in depth here. 

Paralegal Education in California at a Glance

  • A certificate program qualification (minimum) to enter field 
  • Takes 1-2 years for certificate, Associates degree (AD) or 4 for Bachelor's degree (BD)
  • On-campus, online, hybrid, evening and part-time
  • Financial aid via private student loan, scholarship and FAFSA 
  • 82 colleges and universities offer paralegal degree programs in California
  • 52 of those schools also offer a certificate program for paralegals
  • 51 schools in California offer AD programs in Paralegal Studies
  • 12 schools offer BD programs and 17 that offers a Master's Degree in California

What paralegal program should I do?

Should you opt for a paralegal certificate program, an Associates Degree in paralegal studies or go even further and take a Bachelor's Degree in paralegal studies? As the three choices are all rather different, it will help you to make the right choice - and start looking for the right school - IF you understand those differences. 

A paralegal certificate program covers the 24 semester hours that the State of California requires as a minimum level of paralegal education and can be completed in as little as seven months. Much of the program can also be completed online, making it ideal for those who are currently working in a different field and need to continue doing so.

This entry level program is best suited for those who already have a Bachelor's degree in another subject and are hoping to make a career switch and for those who want to start working in the legal profession as quickly as possible and will be happy working with a smaller law firm. It is also best for those who cannot afford to take on larger loans to pay for school as these are the most affordable of the three educational paths.

In most cases the educational prerequisite to enter a paralegal certificate program is a high school diploma or GED. In addition to receiving your certification you will also become eligible to take the CLA/CP exam given by the National Association of Legal Assistants, and earn the designation Certified Paralegal, a designation that is fully accepted by the State of California. 

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Associates Degrees in Paralegal Studies

Most Associate's Degrees in Paralegal Studies can be completed in about 15 months and some can be completed online. You will need to complete 60 credit hours in order to earn your degree and will graduate with a fuller knowledge of the law and increase the chances that a larger law firm will hire you.

The process for admission to an Associate's Degree program in Paralegal Studies is the same as it is for any other Associates Degree. You will need to be a high school graduate and some schools will take SAT/ACT scores into consideration as well.

Costs for these programs vary, but often those offered at Community College are the most affordable. 

Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies

As we mentioned, it is usual for the largest and most prestigious law firms in California to require that their paralegals possess a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies.

These courses are standard four year college degrees and while some can be completed partially online some practical and classroom work is usually required. This educational path is for those who want to work with large law firms and may consider law school themselves in the future.

To be admitted to one of these programs, you will go through the standard four year college admission process. You will need to be a high school graduate and your SAT/ACT scores will be taken into account. Some schools are more competitive than others, and so when making your choices it is best to apply to several schools, just as you would for any other four year college degree. 

Why you should check university (college) ratings?

Choosing a college to start your paralegal career is about finding a good fit between you and the institution. Use them as an evaluation tool. Here's a shortlist of some of the more important factors to look when considering your next college: 

  • Program certification bodies (perhaps the most important, is if your program is authorized/certified?)
  • Class ratios of between teacher and student (the smaller the better, however in larger universities this will be higher)
  • Graduation rates (this data can be manipulated so take it with a pinch of salt)
  • Retention rates
  • Rankings of the college itself (this is an indicator of how it's viewed by employers, the level of lecturers employed, facilities and technology availability, up to date and real-life workplace curriculum etc.)

And most important – VISIT the place! Touring campus, see if you can sit in on classes, meeting faculty and talking to one or two students can help you determine if it gets your #1 ranking.

Paralegal Programs in California

Kickstart your paralegal career with one of these colleges offering American Bar Association approved paralegal studies programs in California.

Irvine Valley College 

Paralegal Studies Program: AS, Certificate


City of College San Francisco

Paralegal/Legal Studies Program: AS, Certificate


John F. Kennedy University

Legal Studies Program: BA, Certificate 


National University

Paralegal Studies Program: AS, BS, Certificate


University of San Diego

Paralegal Program: Certificate


MTI College

Paralegal Studies Program: AA


University of California San Diego Ex

Legal Assistant Training Program: Certificate


University of California UCLA Ext

Paralegal Training Program: Certificate


West Valley College

Paralegal Program: AS, Certificate


Santa Ana College

Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate


Pasadena City College
Paralegal Studies Program: AS, Certificate

Fullerton College
Paralegal Studies Program: AS, Certificate

El Camino Community College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate

De Anza College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate

University of California Irvine Ext
Paralegal Certificate Program: Certificate

Coastline Community College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate

Cerritos College
Paralegal Program: AA, Certificate

Mt San Antonio College
Paralegal Legal Speciality Program: AS

California State University, Los Angeles College of Prof Ed
Paralegal Studies Certificate Program: Certificate

California State University, East Bay
Paralegal Studies Program: Certificate

University of California Santa Barbara
Paralegal Professional Certificate Program: Certificate

College of the Canyons
Paralegal Studies Program: AA

Los Angeles City College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA

West Los Angeles College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate

American River College
Legal Assisting Program: AA, Certificate

University of La Verne
Legal Studies Program: BS, Certificate

San Francisco State University
Paralegal Studies Program: Certificate

Cuyamaca College
Paralegal Studies Program: AS

Miramar College
Legal Assistant Program: AS, Certificate

University of California Riverside
Paralegal Certificate Program: Certificate

Fremont College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA

Skyline College
Paralegal Studies Program: AA, Certificate

Southwestern Community College
Paralegal Studies Program: AS, Certificate

Under the Spotlight

While there are over 30 schools to choose from, here is a look at some of the best known and most reputable paralegal schools in California and why they have earned that reputation.

John F. Kennedy University
100 Ellinwood Way Pleasant Hill, CA 94523-4817
Legal Studies Program
Institution Type: Private College/University
Degrees/Certificates: BA, Certificate


John F. Kennedy University is a respected private college located in Pleasant Hills, CA and given who it is named for has an excellent reputation as a place to begin to study law. The Bachelor's Degree the school offers is the only one offered in the state that is approved by the American Bar Association and students can choose to take the Paralegal Certification program while studying for their four year degree so that they can begin to work part time in their chosen field while they complete their education.

University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110-2492
Paralegal Program
Institution Type: Private College/University
Degrees/Certificates: Certificate


The famed University of San Diego offers a Paralegal Certificate Program that is approved by the American Bar Association and has earned itself a reputation of one of the most complete of such offerings. The certificate course offers a solid foundational knowledge that prepares students for entry level work in the paralegal field in a number of different environments.

De Anza College
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd Cupertino, CA 95014-5797
Paralegal Studies Program
Institution Type: Public College/University
Degrees/Certificates: AA, Certificate


Offered in a smaller, more intimate setting than many other schools The De Anza College Paralegal Studies Program was one of the first such certificate programs approved by the State of California all the way back in 1984. In the over 30 years that have followed it has gained a reputation as a paralegal certificate program that offers one of the most complete basic educations needed to begin working in the legal field as an entry level paralegal.

The school also offers an Associates of Arts degree, which students who have completed their certificate can choose to complete on a part time basis while working in their chosen field and gaining valuable experience. 

California Paralegal Schools

Here are all the guides on California Paralegal Schools:

Sacramento

Los Angeles

Fresno

Search Paralegal Programs

Get information on Paralegal programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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