How to Become a Paralegal in California

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How to Become a Paralegal in California

Paralegals gather facts to shape and win legal cases.

Additionally, they research relevant laws and regulations to help attorneys draft legal documents.

California employs almost 35,000 paralegals.

Without paralegals, attorneys would spend all their time preparing cases instead of presenting them, leaving people’s lives tied up in court.

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Licensing Requirements to Become a California Paralegal

Many legal assistants begin their careers with only an associate degree in paralegal studies; applicants with bachelor’s degrees in specific fields receive hiring preference.

However, some employers prefer assistants with no legal training or experience, providing any necessary education on the job.

Nevertheless, the paralegal field may be perfect if you enjoy tracking down facts, engaging with people to build trust and openness, and love reading contracts.

Paralegals cannot provide legal advice or represent anyone in a California court, nor can they choose, explain, write preliminary copies of or recommend a specific legal document to anyone except their supervising attorney.

Moreover, paralegals may not solicit business for their attorneys.

California Paralegal Industry Information

Paralegals in California must do one of the following:

  • Complete an American Bar Association-approved paralegal training program.
  • Receive a certificate of completion demonstrating 24 semesters or units of legal education-related classes with national or regional accreditation.
  • Attain a baccalaureate or other advanced degree plus one year of experience, supervised by an active California State Bar Association member, and have a competency letter testifying their paralegal abilities.
  • Graduate with a high school diploma or GED, obtain three years’ experience, and receive a letter of recommendation from their supervising attorney.

Five Paralegal Schools in California

These Paralegal/Legal Assistant programs have American Bar Association approval in California.

However, the ABA updates its directory twice a year in February and August, and any program not listed in that directory does not have ABA approval.

University of California Irvine, Ext

University of California Irvine Logo

  • Program Length: Three months of full-time classes or 12 to 24 months part-time.
  • Applicants must already hold a baccalaureate or associate degree before applying.
  • Cost: $7060 to $8270, plus the cost of all prior degrees.
  • The program cost estimate does not include books and fees and represents a remote format.
  • The program includes career coaching in the Legal Career Skills class.
  • Eligible students may receive an Alternative Digital Credential in Legal Research and Analysis upon completing the Legal Research course.

Contact Gina Cho (949) 824-4598 or Email: for additional insights or to set up a campus tour.

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay Logo

  • Program Length: Twelve months to take 11 courses.
  • Cost: $7625 includes computer lab fees and WestLaw access. Price does not reflect expenses for the required general studies courses or prior degrees.
  • The program consists of online and in-person options at 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd Hayward, CA 94542-3000.

Contact Director Dwight Dickerson (510) 885-2311 or Email: to visit the school.

University of California Santa Barbara Ext

University of California Santa Barbara Logo

University of California Riverside

University of California Riverside Logo

  • Program Length: 15 months in an online format.
  • Cost: $6,500 plus the cost of your prior degree.
  • You must already hold an Associate or Baccalaureate degree or complete 59 quarter units or 40-semester units of general education classes.
  • Located at 1200 University Ave Riverside, CA 92507-4596
  • Contact Director Kathleen Wilson at (951) 827-5804 or Email:

University of California San Diego Extended Studies Paralegal Studies Program

University of California San Diego Logo

Accelerated Program Length: 12 weeks online.

  • Accelerated Program Cost: The $7,495 tuition includes course materials and textbooks, placement assistance, the certificate fee, parking permit, orientation, and a graduation luncheon.
  • Part-time Program Length: 12 to 24 months online and live via Zoom.
  • Part-time Program Costs: The $5,100-$5,200 price does not include materials, books, or the $95 application fee.
  • Contact Director Julia Dunlap (858)534-8164 or Email:

Paralegal Schools in California – Summary Table

School Name Address
University of California Irvine, Ext 510 E Peltason Dr, Irvine, CA 92697
California State University, East Bay 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd, Hayward, CA 94542
University of California Santa Barbara Ext Kerr Hall, 2160, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
University of California Riverside 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92521
University of California San Diego Extended Studies Paralegal Studies Program 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
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California Paralegal Salary Data

California’s paralegals earn an average of $70,290 per year.

Although California employs the most paralegals, they rank third-highest for average salaries.

The State of Washington holds second place, and the District of Columbia pays the highest salaries.

Speak with your current or intended employer before enrolling in any paralegal program.

The last thing you want to do is saddle yourself with student debt if your employer pays for legal assistant training.

If you are still in school, ask local attorneys which classes to take to attain their firm’s desired level of competence.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Los Angeles $68,026
San Diego $64,909
San Jose $75,486
San Francisco $75,185
Long Beach $67,065
Fresno $59,835
Sacramento $65,014
Oakland $71,576
Santa Ana $67,125
Anaheim $67,215

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA360$56,030$26.94$90,160$34,350
Chico, CA200$47,790$22.98$61,150$38,580
El Centro, CA50$60,060$28.88$95,700$37,560
Fresno, CA750$60,340$29.01$91,720$35,780
Hanford-Corcoran, CA40$56,950$27.38$78,130$40,390
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA16,530$75,850$36.46$105,670$48,460
Madera, CA40- NA -- NA -- NA -- NA -
Merced, CA60$53,780$25.86$74,520$38,960
Modesto, CA240$62,910$30.25$90,060$45,910
Napa, CA70$69,640$33.48$103,060$47,910
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA660$68,090$32.74$90,080$49,180
Redding, CA110$58,460$28.11$79,500$38,510
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,280$67,030$32.23$98,080$46,480
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA2,080$71,200$34.23$98,590$47,900
Salinas, CA270$63,400$30.48$92,160$46,390
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA4,110$71,420$34.34$100,700$50,040
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA6,330$88,270$42.44$129,900$51,400
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,770$96,460$46.37$140,520$62,600
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA210$58,290$28.02$79,560$35,170
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA80$72,360$34.79$105,020$43,570
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA270$63,060$30.32$91,340$40,540
Santa Rosa, CA360$62,450$30.03$95,170$37,790
Stockton-Lodi, CA330$59,280$28.5$80,770$36,460
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA90$67,570$32.49$92,160$43,090
Visalia-Porterville, CA80$58,640$28.19$71,340$37,440
Yuba City, CA30$61,430$29.54$76,170$40,160
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Paralegals and Legal Assistants, OCC Code 23-2011, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there other ABA-approved California paralegal schools not on this list?

Fortunately, yes.

The Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs lists another 28 paralegal schools in California.

Do you need a bachelor's degree to enroll in paralegal programs in California?

Before enrollment, you must hold a prior associate’s or bachelor’s degree or take a specified number of general studies courses.

What is the shortest time to receive a degree from the schools listed here?

12 months.

Do I have to attend classes in person?

No, most of the listed California paralegal schools use online or Zoom formats.

Do the tuition estimates provided by these schools include books and fees?

Only California State University East Bay and the University of California San Diego Extended Studies Paralegal Studies Program had books and miscellaneous expenses included in their tuition estimates.

USA Paralegal Schools by State

  1. Avatar for Riley Gray Riley Gray

    Cool facts! I’m going to graduate high school next year and I am researching about taking Paralegal here in California since I live here too. I am surprised there are so many choices.

  2. Avatar for Elmer Price Elmer Price

    I’ve been thinking of going to CSU East Bay but I would like to know my other choices too since a Paralegal course is not common to take.

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