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California Paralegal Schools

While its unemployment rate is high compared to other states, California is still the largest state economy in the US, and that economy is growing along with the rest of the country. According to Projections Central, jobs growth should be particularly strong for paralegals and legal assistants in California, at 13.2% through 2024, compared to projections for 8% growth across the US as a whole.1,2 Pairing growth with good salary expectations in the state, earning a paralegal degree at a California paralegal school could make sense to those interested in a legal career.

How to Become a Paralegal in California

There are a number of different programs of varying lengths at California paralegal schools. Unlike most other states, California has specific requirements for paralegals. To become a paralegal in California, you must possess at least one of the following:

  • A paralegal certificate from a school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
  • The completion of a minimum of 24 semester credits in paralegal studies from a school accredited by the state
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in any subject AND a minimum of one year of experience working under an attorney with a minimum of three years of experience in California law
Paralegal Quote: “We work in stealth, in often unrecognized contributions that may appear small when taken individually, but which have enormous ripple effect in the aggregate. I gain intrinsic satisfaction from the knowledge that my work produces this benefit.” -Barbara Liss, President of the Santa Barbara Paralegal Association

California Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook

Projections Central reports that through 2024, paralegal and legal assistant jobs are expected to grow about 13% in California with 1,040 annual openings, which is higher than average.1,2 Paralegals in California also earn higher than average wages, with a mean annual salary of $59,230 statewide as of 2015.3 During the same time period, San Francisco was the top-paying metropolitan area in the US for paralegals, with a reported annual mean wage of $72,310.3 Along with law firms, a number of tech companies in Silicon Valley and city governments throughout the state offer possibilities for employment in the private and public sectors.

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in California

San Francisco State University: Within San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning is the city’s only ABA-approved Certificate in Paralegal Studies. Students can complete the program, which is comprised of 30 credit hours, in as little as 18 months. The first seven courses are core paralegal subjects while the upper level electives are rotated between different specialization areas. Students can specialize in either Corporate and Business Practice, Advanced Litigation, or Estate Planning and Elder Law. Over a dozen star paralegal faculty teach at SFSU and are all current or former legal professionals.

Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in California

With locations across California, Best Best & Krieger LLP provides full service consulting and litigation for its clients in a range of industries. The firm is continually growing, and its staff enjoys a congenial working atmosphere and high job satisfaction. Loeb & Loeb LLP is regularly recognized as one of the top entertainment and media law firms in California, and its attorneys frequently receive national recognition for their accomplishments. Established in 1909, Loeb & Loeb also works in other practice areas. Staff at Loeb & Loeb are organized in teams to better service its variety of clients, and the company considers it a priority to have senior attorneys involved in all work provided to clients. Crowell & Moring LLP has been ranked as one of the top 50 law firms in the US by “American Lawyer.”4 Crowell & Moring is a global company with offices across the US, including offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County. It hires paralegal graduates to staff multiple departments in its effort to provide top quality service to clients.

Paralegal Schools and Programs in California

An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

American River College (Sacramento)*
Associate of Arts | Legal Assisting
Certificate | Legal Assisting
Certificate | Law Office Clerical Assistant

California Lutheran University (Thousand Oaks)
Minor | Legal Studies

California State University East Bay (Hayward)*
Bachelor of Arts | Political Science: Pre-Law Option
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

California State University Los Angeles (Los Angeles)*
Minor | Law and Society
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Canada College (Redwood City)
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal

Cerritos Community College (Norwalk)*
Associate of Arts | Law (Paralegal)
Certificate of Achievement | Law (Paralegal)

Cerro Coso Community College (Ridgecrest)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Chaffey College (Rancho Cucamonga)
Program | Pre-Law Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

City College of San Francisco (San Francisco)
Associate of Science | Paralegal/Legal Studies
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal/Legal Studies

Coastline Community College (Fountain Valley)*
Associate in Arts | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal

College of the Canyons (Santa Clarita)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies

College of the Sequoias (Visalia)
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Certificate | Law Office Clerk/Receptionist
Certificate | Legal Secretary
Certificate | Paralegal

Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo)
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
Associate of Arts | Legal Studies: Business
Associate of Arts | Legal Studies: Social Science
Certificate | Paralegal

Cuyamaca College (El Cajon)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies

De Anza College (Cupertino)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal Studies

El Camino Community College (Torrance)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal Studies

Empire College (Santa Rosa)
Specialized Associate Degree | Paralegal
Certificate | Legal Office Administration
Certificate | Legal Secretary

Fremont College (Cerritos)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Fullerton College (Fullerton)*
Associate of Arts | Legal Office Administration
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Humphreys College (Stockton, CA)
Associate of Arts | Legal Studies
Associate of Science | Court Reporting
Associate of Arts | Court Reporting
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Court Reporting
Bachelor of Science | Court Reporting (online)
Minor | Legal Studies
Certificate of Completion | Paralegal Studies

John F. Kennedy University (Pleasant Hill)*
Bachelor of Arts | Legal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal

Los Angeles City College (Los Angeles)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Los Angeles Mission College (Sylmar)
Associate of Arts | Legal Assisting/Paralegal
Certificate | Legal Assisting/Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal (online program)

Los Angeles Southwest College (Los Angeles)
Associate of Arts | Law/Paralegal
Certificate | Legal Office Assistant
Certificate | Law Office Specialist

Merced College (Merced)
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Merritt College (Oakland)
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Legal Office Assistant

Mount San Antonio College (Walnut)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal/Legal Assistant

MTI College (Sacramento)*
Associate Degree | Paralegal Studies
Associate Degree | Paralegal (online)
Diploma | Legal Administrative Assistant

National University (Los Angeles, Woodland Hills)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Science | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Pre-Law Studies
Minor | Business Law
Certificate | Paralegal Specialist
Certificate | Paralegal Specialist: Corporations Specialization
Certificate | Paralegal Specialist: Criminal Law Specialization
Certificate | Paralegal Specialist: Litigation Specialization

Pasadena City College (Pasadena)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate of Achievement | Paralegal Studies

Platt College (Alhambra; Ontario; Riverside)
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Bachelor of Arts | Paralegal Studies

Riverside Community College (Riverside)
Associate of Science | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Legal Administrative Professional

San Diego Miramar College (San Diego)
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal

San Francisco State University – College of Extended Learning (San Francisco)*
Academic Credit Certificate | Paralegal Studies

Santa Ana College (Santa Ana)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal

University of California – Irvine (Irvine)*
Certificate | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal: Accelerated Option
Certificate | Legal and Forensic Psychology
Specialized Studies Award | Legal Risk Management

University of California – Los Angeles (Los Angeles)*
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Legal Technology

University of California – Riverside (Riverside)*
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Legal Nurse Consulting

University of California – San Diego (San Diego)*
Certificate | Paralegal
Certificate | Paralegal: Accelerated
Certificate | Litigation Technology Management

University of California – Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara)*
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

University of La Verne (La Verne)*
Bachelor of Science | Legal Studies
Minor | American Law
Certificate | Paralegal Studies
Program | Pre-Law

University of San Diego (San Diego)*
Master of Science | Legal Studies
Master of Science | Legal Studies: Business and Corporate Law
Master of Science | Legal Studies: Criminal Law
Master of Science | Legal Studies: Environmental and Energy Law
Master of Science | Legal Studies: International Law
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

West Los Angeles College (Culver City)*
Associate of Arts | Paralegal Studies
Certificate | Paralegal Studies

West Valley College (Saratoga)*
Associate of Science | Paralegal
Associate of Science | Court Reporting
Associate of Science | Legal Transcription
Certificate | Paralegal
Certificate | Court Reporting
Certificate | Legal Secretary
Certificate | Legal Transcription

*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)

Additional Resources

References:
1. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. American Lawyer: http://www.americanlawyer.com/