Paralegal Schools in California

The body of knowledge required to effectively perform legal support services can only come from a formal education in paralegal studies. As attorneys, corporations and government agencies work within an increasingly complex legal framework, the level of responsibility they expect paralegals to be able to take on has also increased. Law offices and other employers in California have come to rely on paralegals with the kind of expertise that can only come from earning a certificate or degree in paralegal studies.

From the burgeoning tech industry in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley to the massive real estate and entertainment industries in Los Angeles, there are plenty of reasons why California’s legal environment is stronger than ever. According to the State Bar of California, there are nearly 190,000 practicing attorneys in the state. In Los Angeles alone, there are at least five firms staffed with more than 200 attorneys, and hundreds more paralegals.

Whether you have visions of sitting in on the in-counsel boardroom meetings of mammoth companies like Facebook or Google, or you want to walk the halls of one of the more than 500 court buildings that make up the largest court system in the nation, you’ll find your opportunity here in California.

And education opportunities are just as varied here, from associate or undergraduate certificates in paralegal studies at the ground level to bachelor’s, post-degree certificates and master’s degrees for the established paralegal looking to specialize.

While the huge selection of programs in California has its benefits, finding one that suits your needs may be a particularly stressful process. We got you covered.

We’ve put together a list of the best online programs and campus options available in the state—all of which are regionally or nationally accredited. Request information to find out more about tuition costs and other key details.

The body of knowledge required to effectively perform legal support services can only come from a formal education in paralegal studies. As attorneys, corporations and government agencies work within an increasingly complex legal framework, the level of responsibility they expect paralegals to be able to take on has also increased. Law offices and other employers in California have come to rely on paralegals with the kind of expertise that can only come from earning a certificate or degree in paralegal studies.

From the burgeoning tech industry in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley to the massive real estate and entertainment industries in Los Angeles, there are plenty of reasons why California’s legal environment is stronger than ever. According to the State Bar of California, there are nearly 190,000 practicing attorneys in the state. In Los Angeles alone, there are at least five firms staffed with more than 200 attorneys, and hundreds more paralegals.

Whether you have visions of sitting in on the in-counsel boardroom meetings of mammoth companies like Facebook or Google, or you want to walk the halls of one of the more than 500 court buildings that make up the largest court system in the nation, you’ll find your opportunity here in California.

And education opportunities are just as varied here, from associate or undergraduate certificates in paralegal studies at the ground level to bachelor’s, post-degree certificates and master’s degrees for the established paralegal looking to specialize.

While the huge selection of programs in California has its benefits, finding one that suits your needs may be a particularly stressful process. We got you covered.

We’ve put together a list of the best online programs and campus options available in the state—all of which are regionally or nationally accredited. Request information to find out more about tuition costs and other key details.

 

Abraham Lincoln University, Los Angeles

Associate of Paralegal Studies – online

Diploma in Paralegal Studies (post-baccalaureate)- online

  • Accreditation: Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Abraham Lincoln University offers two options, a 30-semester diploma program for bachelor’s degree holders that takes about one year to complete, and the 60-semester associate degree, which takes about two years to complete.

We love that these programs are available online, targeting working professionals who need a little extra flexibility in a degree program.

 

Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria

AS in Paralegal Studies – campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate – campus

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

You have your choice of either a pre-degree certificate in paralegal studies or an associate degree through Allan Hancock College. What’s great about this school is that if you choose to complete the certificate of achievement, you can easily transition into the associate degree at a later date.

 

American River College, Sacramento

Associate of Arts (AA) in Legal Assisting – campus

Legal Assisting Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

American River College provides students with two avenues of study. If you are a high school graduate, you can pursue the AA in legal assisting. If you already hold an associate’s degree or higher, you can pursue the legal assisting certificate. We really like the flexibility of the AA offered through American River College, as it is fully transferrable to any of the California State University (CSU) campuses. If you hold the AA, you can transfer in as a junior.

 

California State University East Bay, Division of Continuing and International Education: Hayward

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The paralegal studies certificate through CSU -Hayward was one of the first ABA approved programs in the East Bay. We are impressed with the longevity of this program, which has been in existence since 1980. Courses are available at different times to accommodate working students.

 

California State University, Los Angeles, College of Extended Studies: Los Angeles

Paralegal Studies Certificate Program (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The CSU – Los Angeles paralegal studies certificate program offers two program schedule options: a part-time evening schedule that allows most students to finish the program within two-three semesters and a full-time compressed schedule, which allows student to complete the program in just one semester. If you’re looking for the best in scheduling flexibility, this is the program for you!

 

Canada College, Redwood City

AS in Paralegal Studies – campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate – campus

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

You know you’re getting the best education at Canada College, as its paralegal programs were developed in cooperation with the San Manteo County Bar Association and the San Manteo County Legal Secretaries Association— and they have been since 1979! We’re also a fan of this program for offereing internship opportunities through their Cooperative Education Program, so students can get the best training before entering the workforce.

 

Carrington College, San Jose

AS in Paralegal Studies – online

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We are always a fan of online programs that can also provide students with practical skills, and Carrington is one of them. Carrington College’s online paralegal studies programs offers students convenient online study with interactive lab exercises, so they can gain the practical experience they need to confidently enter the workforce.

 

Cerritos Community College: Norwalk – campus

Paralegal Associate of Arts (AA) Degree – campus

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) with the following specialization options: – campus

  • Business Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Family Law
  • Legal Technology
  • Litigation
  • Probate and Estate Planning
  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

If you want to focus your paralegal studies on a specific area of law, the Cerritos Community College post-associate degree is what you’re after. For high school graduates, Cerritos also offers an associate’s degree, and both programs feature internship opportunities at more than 50 locations.

 

Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest – online

AS in Paralegal Studies

Paralegal Studies Certificate

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Online study is Cerro Coso is convenient and flexible, so it’s no surprise it made our list of the best paralegal programs, both for its associate and pre-degree certificate option. But the paralegal programs through Cerro Coso are also highly interactive, featuring online lectures, videos, and discussion boards that bring students and faculty together in one, dynamic learning environment.

 

Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga

Certificate in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We are big fans of Chaffey College because all programs are taught by attorneys, senior legal office managers/paralegals, and other qualified legal professionals, so students always get the most relevant skills and knowledge, designed to translate well into the real world.

 

Coastline Community College: Newport Beach

Paralegal Associate of Arts (AA) Degree – campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

In addition to its beautiful, Newport Beach location, we are impressed with Coastline Community College’s hands-on efforts to inform and educate prospective and current students. They offer orientation sessions that bring students up to date on everything from course selection to course sequencing. Private counseling and advising sessions are available to students prior to graduation.

 

College of the Canyons: Santa Clarita

Associate of Arts (AA) in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

College of the Canyons earned a well-deserved spot on our list because of its participation in Pathway to Law School, a California community college initiative partners with six California law schools. Through this initiative, students can start with the associate degree level and seamlessly work their way through law school.

 

College of the Sequoias, Visalia

Paralegal Certificate

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We love the College of the Sequoias, not only for its quality paralegal program, but also because of its COS Business Internship program, designed to allow students to grow their skills at off-campus worksites. All internships here also allow students to earn transferrable college credit.

 

Cuyamaca College: El Cajon

Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We love Cuyamaca College’s commitment to the paralegal profession, as is evidenced by their ABA approval and strong student paralegal association, the Cuyamaca Association of Paralegal Students (CAPS). CAPS, which was originally created by a group of paralegal studies majors, works to grow the program and provide learning opportunities beyond the classroom.

 

De Anza College: Cupertino

Paralegal Certificate of Achievement-Advanced (post-associate) – campus

Associate of Science/Arts (AA/AS) in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

De Anza College offers both a post-degree certificate and an associate degree in paralegal studies, and both programs satisfy the educational requirements under California law. We appreciate De Anza’s focus not only on the high school graduate looking to start a career as a paralegal, but the career changer who already holds an associate’s degree in another field.

 

El Camino College, Business Division: Torrance

Associate of Arts (AA) in Paralegal Studies – campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate of Achievement (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

If you think you may want to continue your education at the bachelor’s and even master’s level, El Camino’s paralegal programs are for you. All courses in El Camino’s paralegal studies programs are ideal for not only preparing you to enter the paralegal field, but also for students looking to transfer to a four-year college or university, if desired. Plus, they offer an internship and job placement assistance.

 

Empire College, Santa Rosa

Associate in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools

Empire College’s associate degree in paralegal studies is a great choice for those looking to gain valuable, on-the-job experience in addition to classroom theory. This is thanks to the 120-hour internship that’s included as part of the program and other applied learning opportunities throughout the course of the program.

 

Fremont College: Cerritos

Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The College of Legal Studies at Fremont College offers an associate degree in paralegal studies that can be completed in as few as 15 months. We are also fans of this program because in addition to legal and paralegal-related courses, it also includes courses in the communication, computer, organizational, and research skills paralegals need. Fremont College’s Real World Learning Model allows students to conduct research on areas of law and complete tasks such as writing reports, drafting correspondence, and obtaining affidavits, among others.

 

Fullerton College: Fullerton

Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies – campus

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Fullerton College stands out as a winner among paralegal programs, not just for its ABA-approved program, but also for the services students receive through the Academic Support Center (ASC). The ASC provides a host of free services to all students, including a state-of-the-art library/learning resource center, a cultural center a wellness center, and free tutoring services, among many others.

 

John F. Kennedy University: Pleasant Hill

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate), can be completed concurrently with:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Legal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

John F. Kennedy makes our list of the top paralegal programs, thanks to its ABA approval and paralegal internship, which provides an opportunity for students to gain practical work experience under the supervision of an attorney or experienced paralegal. We also really like that students can complete the post-associate paralegal certificate and the BA in legal studies concurrently.

 

Los Angeles City College: Los Angeles

Associate of Arts (AA) in Paralegal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

As if Los Angeles City College’s ABA approval isn’t impressive enough, the highly affordable tuition makes an associate’s degree in paralegal studies very accessible.

 

Miramar College: San Diego

Paralegal Associate Degree – campus

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We love that Miramar College offers two options for those looking to enter the paralegal profession. While the associate’s degree is designed for the high school graduate, the paralegal certificate is designed for the career changer who already holds an associate’s degree in another field. We are also big fans of Miramar’s Paralegal Club, which is open to all students who want to share information and network with one another.

 

Mount San Antonio College, Business Administration Department: Walnut

Paralegal Associate of Science (AS) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Mount San Antonio College, within the California University system offers students affordable tuition rates, as well as an opportunity to easily transfer to a four-year institution, if desired. We also really like that they stress practical application of knowledge to ensure that students are prepared to easily transition to the workforce upon graduating.

 

MTI College: Sacramento

Paralegal Associate Degree – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

There is plenty of reasons to love MTI College, but chief among them is the fact that their employment rate is probably one of the best. In fact, more than 90 percent of MTI College graduates secure employment in their field of study. We are also big fans of the small class sizes within its paralegal associate degree program.

 

National University: (Los Angeles and Woodland Hills, CA campuses only)

Associate of Science (AS) in Paralegal Studies – campus

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Paralegal Studies – campus

Paralegal Specialist Certificate (post-associate), with concentrations in: – campus

  • Corporations
  • Criminal Law
  • Litigation
  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

If you want to become a paralegal or advance in the field, there’s probably a paralegal program for you at National University.  From the entry-level associate degree program to the post-associate certificate and bachelor’s degree programs for career changers and established paralegals,  no matter where you are in your career National University has the program you need to succeed.

 

Pasadena City College, Business Education Division: Pasadena

Paralegal Certificate of Achievement (post-associate), can be earned concurrently with any Associate of Science (AS) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Pasadena City College is the third largest community college in the U.S., so it comes as no surprise that they offer both an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, as well as a post-associate paralegal certificate of achievement, both of which have earned the ABA seal of approval. We also love the beautiful Pasadena campus, which boasts well-equipped classrooms, theaters, high-tech instructional facilities, and no less than 39 buildings.

 

San Francisco State University, College of Extended Learning: San Francisco

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) with concentrations in: – campus

  • Corporations and Business
  • Advanced Litigation
  • Estate Planning
  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

San Francisco State University’s 30-unit certificate program is designed for the career changer who already holds an associate’s degree in another field or the practicing paralegal interested in specializing their career on a specific area of law. We are impressed with the courses within this program, which are taught by attorneys and working paralegals. Plus, it’s the only ABA-approved program in San Francisco.

 

Santa Ana College: Santa Ana

Paralegal Associate Degree – campus

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Santa Ana College has it all: ABA approval, regional accreditation, and tuition rates that make getting a college education more affordable than ever. Plus, Santa Ana College has a long history of excellence, receiving its first ABA approval in 1975. Students here also have the opportunity to complete an internship. Santa Ana has placed students in more than 50 internship sites throughout California, including the City of Santa Ana Attorney’s Office and the Superior Court of California.

 

Santa Barbara Business College: Bakersfield

AAS- Paralegal – online, campus

  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools

We love the flexibility of Santa Barbara Business College’s associate degree in paralegal studies, as students can complete it through the Bakersfield, Rancho Mirage, or Ventura campuses, or even online! We are also big fans of their career planning and job placement services.

 

South Coast College, Orange

AAS- Paralegal

  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools

South Coast College’s AAS program in paralegal studies takes you from classroom to boardroom in just 18 months. This program has made a name for itself among those targeted at busy, adult learners, as it offers both a daytime program (can be completed in 18 months) and an evening program (can be completed in two years).

 

University of California-Davis Extension

Paralegal Studies Certificate – online, campus

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The University of California – Davis has plenty going for it, including instructors who are licensed attorneys, student access to LexisNexis and Westlaw online legal research, and the ParaStudent website, where students can access lecture notes, templates, writing and research labs, mock exams, and more. We love that students of its paralegal certificate program can complete the program on-campus or online, for the best in flexibility and convenience.

 

University of California, Irvine Extension

Paralegal Certificate (post-AS/AA, cannot qualify with an AAS/AAA) – campus/hybrid

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Study to become a paralegal through the University of California – Irvine, and you’ll be able to choose from on-campus evening courses (with select online courses) or full-time day courses. Choose the evening course format and you can complete your program in as little as 1 year. Choose the compressed, daytime format, and you can complete your program in as little as three months.

 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Extension)

Paralegal Studies Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The University of California’s paralegal studies certificate is designed for the career changer who already holds an associate’s degree in another field. We are impressed with this program not just for its ABA approval, but for its career counseling and job search assistance. We also love that all instructors have been approved by the UCLA School of Law.

 

University of California, Riverside Extension

Paralegal Studies Professional Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We are always impressed with the University of California – Riverside because of its flexible paralegal studies certificate designed for students who already hold an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another field. We also really like that the school allow students to either complete select courses or the entire program.

 

University of California, San Diego, UCSD Extension: La Jolla

Paralegal Certificate Accelerated Program (post-bac) – campus

Paralegal Certificate Part-Time Program (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The University of California – San Diego offers career changers and working paralegals two programs and two formats for completing them. The accelerated program (designed for students with a bachelor’s degree and/or significant legal experience) is an intensive, one-quarter accelerated program that can be completed in just 12 weeks, while the part-time program (designed for students with an associate’s degree) features quarterly courses that meet once a week for up to 10 weeks.

 

University of California, Santa Barbara Extension

Paralegal Certificate Program (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The University of California – Santa Barbara Extension offers an ABA-approved certificate program for students who have already earned an associate’s degree in another field.

 

University of La Verne: La Verne

Certificate in Paralegal Studies, which can be completed concurrently with:

Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

We are impressed with the University of La Verne’s certificate in paralegal studies because all of the courses are taught by legal professionals with real-world experience.

 

University of San Diego: San Diego

Paralegal Certificate (post-bac): campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

The University of San Diego’s paralegal certificate program is offered in two different formats: as a day program that can be completed in one or two terms, and an evening program that can be completed in three terms. We also love their active employment assistance program; USD says that they make every effort to help graduates secure jobs in the field.

 

Victor Valley College, Victorville

Paralegal Certificate – campus

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

Victor Valley College made our list because of their commitment to training students in the practical application and development of current paralegal job skills. This affordable program also includes training in computer technology skills, including electronic databases and research tools.

 

West Los Angeles College: Culver City

Associate of Arts (AA) in Paralegal Studies (WLAC has transfer provisions with National University’s bachelor’s degree program in Paralegal Studies) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

If you have plans to eventually complete a bachelor’s degree in legal studies, then consider West Los Angeles College, which has a curriculum that aligns with national University’s bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. National University is one of just a few universities in the Los Angeles area that offer an ABA approved bachelor’s degree for paralegals.

 

West Valley College: Saratoga

Paralegal Associate of Science (AS) – campus

Paralegal Certificate (post-associate) – campus

  • ABA Approval: Yes
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission

West Valley College accommodates both high school graduates and those who have already completed an associate’s degree in another field. All students of these programs complete an internship with a local employer, which provides students with the opportunity to gain valuable, on-the-job experience before graduating.

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