Paralegal Schools in Los Angeles
According to the American Bar Association there are 170,000 licensed attorneys in California, and a significant percentage of them are based in Los Angeles. While becoming a lawyer is expensive and takes a minimum of seven years of college level schooling there are other paths to a well-paid legal career in Los Angeles, with one of the most attractive options being working as a paralegal.
Featured Paralegal Programs in LA
What Is a Paralegal/Legal Assistant?
A paralegal is a lot more than an administrative worker. A paralegal is a qualified specialist who supports lawyers in nearly every aspect of their law practice. Paralegals are unable to practice law lawfully, but an ever-expanding role means they can come surprisingly close.
Paralegals are responsible for legal research, legal document preparation, document service and much more. Many, when they reach a more senior level, also take on management of other legal assistants too.
What is the Entry Level Paralegal Salary in LA?
Becoming a paralegal in Los Angeles is a lucrative prospect. On average, a paralegal can command a salary of $52,000 per annum* or more, and even entry level paralegals usually earn over $30,000.
At the highest levels, the most experienced paralegals may earn over $90,000 a year, and all while enjoying a career that is challenging and prestigious. The employment prospects for LA paralegals are excellent.
As law firms and legal bodies seek to cut costs, but not the quality of the representation they offer, supervising attorneys are becoming willing to designate more tasks to their paralegal staff, meaning that the size of those staffs is growing all the time.
There is no licensing requirement for paralegals, but as their supervising attorney is held responsible for their actions, formal paralegal education is something most employers require.
Some smaller firms consider a paralegal certification adequate, while larger corporate firms prefer to hire candidates that hold a minimum of an associate degree in paralegal related studies.
Paralegal Schools in Los Angeles
Fremont is a private college located just outside LA in Cerritos, CA. The school focuses on providing vocational education across a range of subjects. For those interested in working in the law as a legal assistant they offer an AAS degree in Paralegal Studies that will take 18 months to complete and can largely be completed online. The 60 credit American Bar Association approved degree program offers a broad, but comprehensive overview of the skills a paralegal need to master to work in a wide variety of law office and legal settings. They are also given an in-depth overview of the LexisNexis system that powers almost all law office research tasks. Most coursework is completed online, except for a mandatory internship with an appropriate local employer. To be admitted to the program, students must be over the age of 18 and hold a high school diploma or GED. They must also meet minimal educational requirements as outlined by the school. To meet the cost of the degree, which in 2020 was charged at the rate of $400 per quarter credit hour for the 60-credit course, most students make use of traditional financial aid.
Los Angeles Southwest College
Los Angeles Southwest College is a private, nonprofit institution dedicated to providing higher education to the residents of South Los Angeles. For those who aspire to becoming a paralegal they offer a campus based two-year Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies degree. The program offers a comprehensive introduction to general law, with a special focus on public service law, a field that students gain additional insight into via working field trips and an internship with a local employer. Students are also given in depth instruction in general education subjects as required to fulfill their degree obligations. The Los Angeles Southwest College states explicitly that its programs, including the paralegal program are open to any area resident over the age of 18 who holds a high school diploma who can demonstrate that they will benefit from the chance to complete a degree. Students must all be able to prove they are full time residents of the State of California. Tuition is charged at an exceptionally low rate - $46 per unit - and if they qualify for traditional financial aid students can make use of that to pay for tuition. If they do not, the school offers a no credit check payment plan and access to various state programs that may also help them pay for school.
Downey Adult School
Downey Adult School is a vocational college that offers a number of certificate and degree programs both on and offline. If you are looking for a paralegal school in LA, their Certificate in Paralegal Studies is one of the few such programs that can be completed completely online. The Certificate offers a solid introduction to the roles paralegals play in the legal system, both in a corporate and public service law setting. Graduates are well-prepared to take an entry level position with a smaller law office or to continue their education elsewhere and obtain and AAS or BA degree. The 624-hour Downey Paralegal Certificate can be completed in as little as nine months, and most students graduate in less than a year. Course costs are charged at a fixed fee rate, which in 2021 is $3,999. Students who qualify can make use of Federal and State financial aid to pay for their education, take a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae or make use of the school's own interest fee payment plan. To be admitted to the program students must be over the age of 18, hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational standards set by the Admissions Office. They must also have full access to a computer with reliable Internet access to attend live video sessions and complete their online coursework on time.
Mt San Antonio College
Mt. San Antonio College is a private for-profit college that offers both Associate in Science (A.S.) and Associate in Arts (A.A.) degrees based just outside LA in Walnut, CA. The Paralegal AS Degree they offer is a campus based, two-year program designed to offer aspiring legal assistants a solid foundation to begin their career in an entry level position in a wide variety of settings. The Paralegal/Legal Assistant program is approved by the American Bar Association, provide that students complete predefined general education courses that exclude certain liberal arts subjects. Students are given a comprehensive general legal education and are required, as a requirement of graduation, to complete a school arranged internship as well. The cost of the program is charged on a per-credit basis, with the cost differing according to a student's personal circumstances and residency as a California native. Final costs are calculated at the time of admission and federal and state financial aid is available to those who qualify. To be admitted to the program students must be over the age of 17, hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum educational standards as set out by the college.
Pasadena City College
Pasadena City College is one of California's oldest and most awarded community colleges, having provided both certificate and associates degree level programs in a wide array of subjects since 1924. Pasadena City College offers two programs to students interested in becoming a paralegal. The basic program is a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. This is an American Bar Association approved campus-based program that can be completed in as little as two semesters. Students can choose to include additional general education courses to their workload to earn an AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies instead in around two years. All students, no matter their chosen graduation outcome, are given a comprehensive education in every aspect of a paralegal's duties in a general law environment, with a special focus on developing legal research skills and in the use of the LexisNexis system. In addition to their classroom-based studies students attend learning sessions in real world settings such as local courts and a variety of local law offices. Some students also get the chance to complete an internship with a large corporate law firm. To be admitted to either the Certificate program only or to convert their studies into an AAS degree students must be over the age of 18, hold a high school diploma and meet minimum educational standards prior to and during enrollment. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis, with the lowest rates offered to California residents. Final costs vary according to a student's personal situation and income, and while most students make use of federal and state financial education to pay for their schooling those ineligible to do so may be able to take out a private student loan instead.
Fullerton College is the oldest community college in the state of California, having been in continuous operation since 1913 and having served hundreds of thousands of students in that time. For those interested in becoming a paralegal the primary avenue offered at Fullerton is their ABA approved, two-year AAS in Paralegal Studies program. In every aspect of the duties of a paralegal in a general legal setting, enrolled students receive a comprehensive education with a particular emphasis on developing improving legal research skills. Students also complete the general education courses required to meet degree standards and will be given the chance to intern with a local law firm to make use of their developing legal skills in a real-life setting. For those who already hold an associate or bachelor's degree in another subject taking and passing the law and paralegal studies specific modules offered to AAS students will earn them a Certificate in Paralegal studies in around 12 months of full-time study. To be admitted to what is a competitive and popular degree program, students must meet educational standards and their past academics, including SAT scores play a part in an admissions decision. Tuition is charged, as is the case at most California community colleges, on a per credit basis, the cost of which is determined by a student' residency, income and personal circumstances, with the lowest rates charged to US Citizen California residents. Most students make use of traditional federal and state financial aid to fund their education at Fullerton.
Abraham Lincoln University
Abraham Lincoln University is an online only college based in California, but it does not maintain a physical campus. The school offers two programs to those hoping to become a Paralegal: a basic Certificate in Paralegal Studies and an AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies for those hoping to work in a corporate law firm setting where such things are usually required. Both courses are offered in their entirety online. The Certificate program is a two semester 30 credit program that covers the general basics of law firm practice, the law in general and legal research. It offers students the basic knowledge needed to obtain an entry level paralegal position with many smaller law offices. The four semester 60 credit AAS in Paralegal Studies adds more in-depth classes covering advanced legal research and legal ethics, as well as the general education courses required to meet degree standards. Graduates of this program will hold the AAS degree that larger law firms and court employers look for. Admission to either program depends on a student's ability to meet minimum academic standards, and on the condition that they are a high school graduate. There is no discounted rate for California students in terms of tuition as Abraham Lincoln University is considered a nationally based school. Tuition is charged on a per semester basis with the cost set at $7,500 for 2021. Most students pay for their education via federal financial aid and any available state grants but may also choose to take a private student loan instead.
Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Los Angeles Trade is vocationally focused community college serving local residents by providing an affordable option for certificate and degree programs. The Paralegal Program at the school can be completed in two ways, as a Certificate Program or as an AAS Degree in Paralegal Studies. The core legal education is the same for both programs. Students are required to complete 42 credit hours of focused legal training that covers the basics required to work as a paralegal in a general law office setting. To qualify for the Certificate only program students must already hold a minimum of an associate degree, but there is no requirement in terms of subject. Those completing an AAS degree will also be required to complete 21 credit hours of general education courses to meet degree standards. All students are also required to complete an internship with a local law office employer. Entrance to either program is based on a student's prior academic performance, including their high school transcripts and SAT scores. The cost of either program is charged on a sliding scale per credit basis that varies according to a student's personal circumstances and residency. Final costs are calculated as a part of the admissions process and most students make use of traditional federal financial aid and state grants to pay for their education.
Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles City College is one of the best regarded city schools in terms of providing affordable certificate and AAS level education to local students. Their Paralegal Program, which is ABA approved, is offered to non-degree holding students as an AAS in Paralegal Studies, while those who have already earned a minimum of an associate degree in another subject can complete the legal studies portion only to earn a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. The legal components that all students must take cover the basics of a paralegal's day to day duties, the development of legal research skills and the use of LexisNexis and legal document preparation. Students are also given instruction in general law office management basics and are given the chance to complete an internship with a local employer. The legal element of the program required for both graduation outcomes is a 42-credit campus-based offering. AAS candidates must complete a further 21 credits of general education courses to graduate. All students must meet other minimal educational requirements before admission. The cost of either program is calculated on a per credit basis on a sliding scale which varies according to the personal circumstances and residence of a student. As part of the admissions process, final expenses are estimated, and most students make use of conventional federal financial aid and state grants to pay for their tuition.
El Camino Community College
One of the numerous community colleges operating in the Los Angeles area, El Camino Community College offers two paths to obtaining a paralegal education to eligible students. Their Paralegal Program, which is ABA approved, is offered as an AAS in Paralegal Studies to new higher education students, while those who have already earned a minimum of an associate degree in another subject can complete the portion of legal studies only to earn a Certificate in Paralegal Studies. Either program requires students to complete 32-35 credits of focused legal education that is offered on a campus taught basis and takes three semesters to complete. AAS degree candidates must then add an additional 26 credits of general education, a further one to two semesters, to graduate. The legal portion of the program covers the basics of general law, la office operation, legal research, and legal ethics. By graduation students will have the knowledge and skills that large law firms look for in their paralegals for entry level positions, but graduates will also be qualified to work in many other legal venues as well. There is no set per credit cost, this is determined during the admissions process and is based on a student's residency and income. Admission is based on prior academic record, including high school transcripts and SAT scores. Those who are admitted usually pay for their education via federal and state financial aid programs, although private student loans may be an option for those who do not qualify for FAFSA based aid.
West Los Angeles College
Part of the California Community College system West Los Angeles College offers a wide range of associate degree and diploma and certificate programs. Their campus based 2-year, ABA approved AAS in Paralegal Studies Program offers a comprehensive 60 credit hour overview of the skills needed to work as a paralegal in a general law setting but adds the additional education in legal research and legal ethics, as well as law office management skills that most large corporate law firms look for in their recruitment process. Students also complete an internship with a local employer. The Paralegal program at West Los Angeles is also available as a Certificate in Paralegal Studies to those who hold an associate or bachelor's degree already. They need only complete the specific law courses and can expect to graduate after 12-14 months of full-time study. To be admitted to either program students must be over 18, high school graduates and meet minimum educational standards. Costs are charged on a sliding scale, per credit basis, the total of which depends on s student's age, income, and residency. Most students who qualify make use of FAFSA based federal financial aid to pay for school, although those who do not qualify may be able to obtain a private student loan from a lender like Sallie Mae.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm