Paralegal Programs in San Francisco, CA
Paralegals – also sometimes known as legal assistants – are increasingly being utilized to take on more and more complex – and interesting – tasks as a vital part of legal teams in all branches of the practice of law.
This is especially true in California, where there are more than 266,000 bar admitted attorneys, all of whom need help!
While there is no certification requirement to work as a paralegal in California, the vast majority of employers do give hiring preference to those with a formal education in paralegal studies.
In San Francisco, CA, there are three basic paths a student can choose to take:
The term paralegal certificate can have two meanings, and it is important to understand why. In some cases, it may refer to a short course of study that can be undertaken to provide an introduction to the profession, resulting in a career diploma rather than a degree. In other cases, it refers to a paralegal program offered to those who already hold an undergraduate degree in another subject who are hoping to make a career change.
Most A.S degree paralegal programs are two years long, just like any other Associate Degree program. Many employers require an Associates Degree for paralegal employment, and it is an excellent option for people who want to get into the workforce fast but still have the choice of pursuing a higher level of study later by transferring credits achieved from an AS to a BS degree.
For those hoping to pursue employment with major corporate law firms or in government agencies, a regular four-year Bachelor’s Degree is frequently the desired qualification. In addition, if a working paralegal changes their mind and decides to go to law school to become an attorney, a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies might be quite valuable as well.
Best Paralegal Programs in San Francisco, CA
3300 College Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066
Skyline College offers two campus based educational options for aspiring paralegals, both of which have earned the distinction of being American Bar Association accredited.
Their Paralegal, Legal Assistant Certificate of Achievement is a 27 credit offering that can be completed in two semesters of study. It covers general law, legal research, legal ethics and more and offers a solid foundation in the knowledge needed to work as a paralegal in various settings.
The Paralegal, Legal Assistant Associate in Arts Degree Program is designed to be completed in two years (four semesters) and offers a more comprehensive paralegal education while also adding the general education requirements that come along with any AA degree. Both programs also require students to complete an outside internship prior to graduation.
Admission to either program is based on past academic performance and calls or a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Tuition is charged on a sliding scale per credit hour basis and traditional financial aid is available to those who qualify as well as a number of workforce grants.
City College of San Francisco
50 Frida Kahlo Way, San Francisco, CA 94112
CCSF offers affordable education to local students, and for those interested in becoming a paralegal both on campus post degree certificate and AAS degree options. While many students start out with the 2-year AAS program, those who already hold an Associate degree in another subject can opt for the Certificate Program instead, which can be completed in two semesters, or just under a year.
Both programs cover similar ground in terms of legal education, and both are American Bar Association approved. All credits earned in either program satisfy most colleges and universities’ lower-division prerequisites for related four-year degree programs, as many larger Bay Area employers do prefer to hire candidates with a BA this can be an important consideration when choosing a paralegal school.
Admission to either program is based on past academic performance and an in person interview with department faculty. Tuition is charged on a per credit, sliding scale basis and financial aid is available to those who qualify. The programs are offered fully or partially online.
4200 Farm Hill Boulevard, Redwood City, CA 94061
Canada College is a private vocational college that offers both certificate and AAS programs in Paralegal Studies – completely online.
The traditional AAS program is a 60 credit, 2 year program that is currently being offered in a hybrid format, with some courses completed online and live lectures offered on campus. It provides an overview of the general knowledge needed to work as an entry level paralegal, as well as a special focus on legal office management.
The certificate program, designed for those who already hold an Associate Degree in another subject but are now seeking to make a switch into working in the legal field, is a shorter, 27 credit program that covers only the legal component of the curriculum as their general education requirement has already been covered by work completed to obtain their previous degree.
Past academic performance is considered for admission and requires a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Tuition is charged on a sliding scale per credit basis dependent on a student’s income and personal situation. The school provides a net price calculator here that can help you determine what your costs might be. Financial aid and a limited number of state grants are available to those who qualify.
12500 Campus Drive,
Oakland, CA 94619
Phone: (510) 434-3936
Merritt College, a private vocational institution, offers both an entry level Paralegal Certificate Program and a more comprehensive AAS in Paralegal Studies to those interested in working in the field.
Both programs offer a solid foundation in general law, legal research and legal ethics while also offering students the chance to take additional classes in specialty legal areas such as real estate, family or immigration law. Both follow the same syllabus for the legal portions of the course, but the AAS adds the general education requirements required for the granting of a degree rather than a career certificate. At this time the courses are offered in a hybrid format, with some coursework completed online while lectures are offered on campus.
The Paralegal Certificate can be completed in 27 credit hours, or two semesters, while the AAS in Paralegal Studies is a two year, 60 credit undertaking. Admission to either is dependent on past academic performance and an interview with the department chairs. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis, on a sliding scale, and financial aid is available to those who qualify.
San Francisco State University
Downtown Campus 160 Spear St Suite 1230, San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 817-4244
Via its Extended Education annex, SFSU offers a 30 unit Paralegal Certificate Course designed to provide a ‘fast track’ to an entry level paralegal or legal secretary position with a smaller law office, or as an introduction to the field to those considering taking a more advanced degree course at a later date.
The program is American Bar Association approved and offers a broad overview of the basics of paralegal studies in a hybrid delivery format. The course offers education in general law, legal ethics, legal research and an introduction to e-Discovery as well as instruction on law office management.
Admission to the program requires a high school diploma or GED. The cost of the program is set at $8,990 and while traditional financial aid is not available to cover its cost, students may be able to obtain a private student loan to meet their tuition bills.
West Valley College
14000 Fruitvale Ave, Saratoga, California 95070
West Valley is a private, two year college that specializes in vocational education, and for those interested in becoming a paralegal they offer both a two-year AAS degree in Paralegal Studies and a post degree Certificate in Paralegal Studies that can be completed in two semesters, or just under a year.
Admission to the Certificate program calls for a minimum of an Associates Degree in another subject from an accredited school, while the admissions for the AAS program require a high school diploma and a past minimum GPA.
Both courses offer an in-depth education in the basics of the law, legal research and especially in legal ethics. Students are also required to complete a short internship with a local employer prior to graduation. Classes are currently offered in a hybrid format.
The cost of either program is charged on a per-credit basis. The cost per credit hour to CA state residents is set at $46 for the 2021/2022 semester and $290 for out of state residents. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
De Anza College
21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014
To help people prepare for a career as a paralegal, De Anza College offers both a post degree certificate and an AAS degree program, and was the first school in California to offer such programs, having done so since 1984. Their paralegal offerings have also been American bar Association accredited for more than two decades.
Instruction in various types of law, essential paralegal skills, legal writing and research, and civil litigation procedure are all included in the legal portions of both courses, with general education prerequisites added to the AAS to satisfy degree granting requirements. The AAS degree is designed to be completed in a standard two years, while the Certificate takes two semesters, or just about a year.
Admission to the certificate program calls for a minimum of an Associate degree in another subject. Those hoping to enroll in the AAS option will need to hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum academic standards.
Tuition is charged to California residents at $55 per credit hour, in addition to the cost of fees and books. Traditional financial aid is available to those who qualify, as are a limited number of state grants.
California State University
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd, SF 102 Hayward, CA 94542
Phone: (800) 730-2784
Cal State’s Graduate Education Department is offering a Paralegal Studies Certificate Program that takes 12 months to complete. The program is ABA approved and offers a broad overview of the skills needed to work as an entry level paralegal in a number in all civil and criminal law.
The program takes three semesters to complete and includes a mandatory internship with a local law firm and is completed online and on campus.
Admission is based on meeting educational requirements and passing an admissions interview. For students with no previous legal experience, completing a pre-requisite course (Introduction to Paralegalism) is mandatory. Tuition is charged on a sliding scale based on residence and income, and traditional financial aid is available to all who qualify.