Paralegal Schools & Programs Fresno, CA
Many people find the law - and legal processes - fascinating. Some of them would like to work in the field but are not ready or able to commit seven years of their life to university and law school. A career as a paralegal - can be a viable alternative. Attending paralegal schools in Fresno, CA is a great first step into this challenging but well-paying field for the people there.
What is a Paralegal?
A paralegal - sometimes also called a legal assistant - is a lot more than an administrative assistant. These are legal professionals who work directly with lawyers - all paralegals in California must work under the supervision of a managing attorney - on almost every aspect of case law, from crucial legal research to brief preparation, document collation, court filing preparations and much more.
Paralegals are skilled professionals who can work in any branch of the law, from corporate law to personal injury, immigration to human rights and even within the court system itself. Federal and state government agencies also make use of paralegals on a daily and ongoing basis. It is a challenging vocation, but one that can also be extremely rewarding, both professionally and financially.
Licensing & Certification
California does not require licensing for paralegals, nor does the state require a certification, just that all work is completed under the supervision of a managing attorney, who will be responsible for their actions.
It is because of the latter that most law firms prefer to hire paralegals with at least some formal education as provided by paralegal schools. Graduates can choose to take a national certification - offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants - but it is not mandatory for employment.
Paralegal Fresno Salaries: Entry-Level & Average
Before you pay for any courses at a paralegal school and make becoming a legal assistant your new career goal, it is smart to understand what the earning potential - and the growth potential - making such a move offers.
In terms of salary, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics 1, the average salary for a paralegal working in Fresno, CA was $53,040 per annum. That is in line with the national average - which stands at $55,020 for the same time period - and salary ranges are wide, from $32,860 in the lowest percentile to $80,000 per annum for the most experienced paralegals working in large corporate law settings.
Paralegal employment in Fresno, CA - and nationwide - is increasing 2. As more law firms seek to minimize costs while still offering excellent legal representation, paralegals are performing more and more of the work that junior attorneys may have done in the past. A paralegal cannot practice law, but increasingly they come awfully close!
Paralegal Schools in Fresno, CA
Fresno City College
Fresno City College was one of the first public higher education schools in the Central Valley to offer paralegal studies programs, beginning back in the 1980s, and now offers both an AS degree program and a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. Both programs follow the same 37 credit curriculums in terms of the paralegal study. To complete the Certificate program students must already hold a minimum of an associate degree in another subject, while AS candidates are required to hold a high school diploma or GED and meet academic admission standards. The program covers the basics needed to work as an entry level paralegal, including legal research, criminal law, immigration law, corporate law and more. Students are also educated in basic law office practices. Many paralegals become supervisors or managers as their careers progress, and this proves helpful. In addition, students complete a 200-hour internship with a local employer. Classes are campus based, and the cost of the program is assessed on a per-credit basis. The Associates Degree program takes two years to complete, while the certificate program can be completed 12-14 months.
Per credit cost depend on a student's personal circumstances and income, and most students make use of federal financial aid to cover most of those costs. Some students may also qualify for CalWORKs state workforce grants.
Fresno Pacific College
Fresno Pacific College is a private Christian School offering a wide variety of vocational and professional development programs to working adults. The school offers a 288-clock hour program in Paralegal Studies designed to provide students with the legal knowledge needed to work as an entry level paralegal in a wide variety of settings and, should they desire, take a national certification after graduation. The program covers all the basic aspects of an entry level paralegal's responsibilities in a number of legal fields and provides additional training in legal ethics and personal responsibility. The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program offered at Fresno Pacific College is a fixed fee course offered several times a year. Students must hold a high school diploma or GED and be over the age of 18 to enroll. The tuition cost is $3,999. Traditional financial aid is not available to cover the costs of this program, but to help spread cost a private student loan from an organization like Sallie Mae may be available to creditworthy students.
College of the Sequoias
A traditional community college, the College of the Sequoias offers a two-year Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies that offers a very comprehensive overview of everything needed to begin working as a paralegal in a corporate law environment (or any other branch of legal service students aspire to.) The program also offers a special focus on family and immigration law. The program is charged on a per credit hour basis. The cost of these credits varies according to a student's residence, personal circumstances, and income. Most students make use of traditional financial aid and state workforce grants to cover these costs. To be admitted students must hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational standards.
Oakbrook College of Law
Oakbrook College of Law is a private, standards based Christian school that offers a year-long paralegal program designed to prepare students to work in a variety of paralegal settings. Admission to the program however is selective and depends upon a student's suitability to attend the school and complete the program as assessed by the school's Board of Governors. Those who do qualify are charged at a rate determined by the school. To learn more about the program those interested are advised to contact the school directly.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. O*NET OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/23-2011.00