Paralegal Schools in Seattle, WA
A paralegal, or legal executive as they are sometimes known, is a legal professional - not a secretary, who carries out an ever-increasing variety of legal tasks under the direct supervision of a managing attorney. Paralegals are employed by large corporate law firms, smaller boutique concerns, various branches of the government, on civil rights issues with non-profits and more. While in the State of Washington there is no state mandated education requirement to work as a paralegal many employers - especially corporate law firms, do prefer to hire those with some formal education. This is where paralegal schools in Seattle, WA come in.
While paralegals do not have to complete the seven to nine years of education that bar admitted attorneys do, the best employment opportunities are usually available to those who have some formal education. Sensibly, before undertaking any college or university program determining the ROI on that investment is a must. On a national level in the US, paralegals are usually quite well paid. The national average salary for a paralegal in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $56,610 per annum, approximately $27.22. In comparison, in the same time period those working as paralegals in Seattle commanded a salary of, on average, $63, 050, or $30.11 per hour.
Salaries do vary according to experience, education level and employer. In 2202 the lowest 10% of earners in the paralegal field in Seattle averaged a wage of $41.130 per annum, while the top earners commanded $91,410 or more.
Job Growth Prospects
In terms of growth as more and more law firms of all kinds look to reduce the cost of quality representation to clients without sacrificing profit an increasing number of paralegals are being assigned tasks that were previously undertaken by junior attorneys, which allows them to do so, meaning the outlook for both employment in the field and career growth for Seattle paralegals is good. This is especially true in public sector law.
Paralegal Schools in Seattle, WA
Seattle Central College for Continuing Education
Seattle Central College offers a wide range of programs not only to traditional first time students but also to working adults. Their Paralegal Certificate Program is offered by their Continuing Education Department and is designed for those who are new to the legal field, or who have some experience but wish to improve their knowledge and skills. The program is currently offered online and takes approximately six weeks to complete. The basics of the role of the paralegal are covered, along with local law and ethics as it applies to Washington. While this certificate program is not as comprehensive as some others it does offer an excellent introduction to the profession and will often give students the knowledge needed to obtain an entry level position with a smaller legal concern. The program is a cash only offering, which means the cost cannot be covered by traditional student loans. The cost is set at $1,395, which, after a $500 initial deposit can be financed via Affirm if needed. There are also a limited number of $500 scholarships offered to students who submit exceptional essays. There are no educational requirements to enroll other than being a high school graduate/GED recipient.
University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education
The Paralegal Certificate Program offered by UW's prestigious Professional and Continuing Education Center is designed for adults who have already obtained a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in another subject but are looking to move into the paralegal profession. Advanced English skills are also required and English proficiency is tested prior to admission for those whose degree is not in a language related subject. This course is often taken by those who are already working as legal secretaries and are looking to advance the scope of their role. It is a hybrid program, with live lectures and practicums offered at the school's Downtown Seattle campus and other classwork online. If taken as a full time day program the UW Paralegal Certificate can be earned in 11 months. Evening classes are offered, and those students usually graduate in 17 months. The program is offered once a year, beginning in September. The cost of the UW paralegal certificate is set at $7,740. While traditional financial aid is not available many students qualify for scholarships that cover most of their tuition costs.
Highline College's respected legal department offers two educational opportunities for those who wish to become paralegals. At its Des Moines Campus (a 30-minute drive from Seattle's downtown) the school offers a 2-year Associate of Applied Science degree in paralegal studies or a 1-year Paralegal Plus Certificate for students who already have a bachelor's degree and want to pursue a paralegal certificate. Both programs are American Bar Association approved and are designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to working as a paralegal. Most instruction is campus based, and students may be offered the chance to intern with a local law firm. Admission to both programs is quite competitive, and based on a student's past academic performance, essay submission and personal interview. Tuition for those who are admitted is charged on a sliding scale per credit basis and financial aid is available to those who qualify for it.
The paralegal programs offered by Edmonds College are the largest, and the longest established, offered in the Pacific Northwest. There are three options available. Students completing a first degree can choose between an Associate in Applied Science or Associate in Technical Arts degree. Admission to these programs is based on past academic performance in high school, and a high school diploma is required. The third option is open to those who hold a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in another subject and are now seeking to move into the legal field. Both programs are campus based and both include an internship with a local law firm. Tuition fees of either Associate Degree is set according to a student's personal circumstances, but, on average, minus fees and books the average cost of the Associates Programs for WA state residents was $10,075 while the Certificate program's average cost was $5,000. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
Tacoma Community College
Another long-established program, this school offers students who already have a bachelor's degree and want to pursue a paralegal certificate a 1-year Paralegal Certificate or for those embarking on a first degree a 2-year Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies degree. Both programs are academically competitive and admission is based on past performance. First time students applying for the AA degree will need to hold a high school diploma and have maintained a 3.0 GPA in their senior year or higher. Students must also be interviewed by the Department Chair. Both programs are offered as a hybrid, with many classes completed online and live lectures offered on campus. Both are charged on a per-credit basis, the cost of which varies according to student situation and residence. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.