Paralegals in Washington State receive the second-highest average salaries in the nation.
Only the District of Columbia pays its legal assistants a higher annual wage.
In addition, as one of only four states that allow legal apprenticeships, paralegals and legal assistants in Washington can use their work experience to take and pass the bar exam without first graduating from law school.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 Licensing Requirements for Washington Paralegals
- 2 Paralegal Schools in Washington
- 3 Advantages of Becoming a Paralegal: Salaries and Apprenticeships
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4.1 Do Washington paralegals have to attend ABA-approved education programs to take the bar exam?
- 4.2 How do paralegals qualify for the NALA Certified Paralegal Exam?
- 4.3 Which college specifies reduced tuition rates for veterans?
- 4.4 Whose program takes the longest to complete?
- 4.5 Which professional exam grants a five-year credential?
- 4.6 Does any program have an unusual requirement?
- 4.7 Which course costs the least?
- 4.8 How many other states allow apprenticeships in place of paralegal classes?
Licensing Requirements for Washington Paralegals
Washington State does not have a formal entity to regulate paralegals.
Instead, paralegals complete a certification program through one of several national professional organizations, including:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS)
The NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations) is an umbrella organization.
Its Washington affiliate is the Washington State Paralegal Association.
The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) provides the Certified Paralegal exam, which has two parts: Knowledge and Skills.
Applicants must pass the knowledge test before advancing to the skills test.
Applicants qualify for the exam in three different ways:
- Current enrollment in or graduation from a paralegal program
- Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any field
- Reaching seven years of experience as a paralegal
The third credentialing organization, the National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS), provides three certificates:
- Accredited Legal Professional (ALP)
- Certified Legal Professional/Professional Legal Secretary (CLP/PLS)
- Professional Paralegal (PP)
The Accredited Legal Professional credential exam has three parts.
You must take and pass all three on the same attempt with a 70 percent or higher score.
Exceptional paralegals should take the Certified Legal Professional/Professional Legal Secretary (CLP/PLS) because successful passage grants you a five-year certificate.
The Professional Paralegal (PP) credential proves your superior grasp of all areas of law.
Paralegal Schools in Washington
These paralegal programs in Washington State currently appear on the list of ABA-approved schools:
South Puget Sound Community College
- Program Length: Nine quarters to complete 97 to 101 credits.
- Cost: $8612, including books and supplies
- Must complete 13.5 quarter credits of legal specialty courses
- Students must attend the Paralegal Skills Application course at the Paralegal Community Justice Clinic.
- Contact Director Adam Tenenbaum (360) 596-5438 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tacoma Community College
Tacoma CC has two Paralegal Program options.
First, enroll in the Associate of Applied Science if you do not possess an associate or baccalaureate degree or do not already work as a legal assistant.
Instead, select the Paralegal Preferred Pro-Certificate, if you have one or more degrees or already have law office experience.
- Program Length: 101 credits (about two years)
- Cost: Students must live in Washington for 12 months before enrollment to receive resident tuition rates.
- Washington residents pay $119.13 per credit, while non-residents pay $135.04. International students pay $306.92 per credit.
- Contact Director Jennifer Sorensen (253) 566-5053 or Email: email@example.com.
Edmonds offers three paralegal options: the Paralegal Associate in Applied Science — Transfer degree, the Paralegal Associate of Technical Arts, and the Advanced Certificate Paralegal.
- Program Length: 18 months for the AAS-T and the ATA, and nine months for the ACP
- Cost: $10,700 for the AAS-T, $10,075 for the ATA, and $5,000 for the ACP
- The AAS-T requires ten credits in American Sign Language
- Contact Director Scott Haddock (425) 640-1185 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Highline Community College
- Program Length: A two-year Associate of Applied Science program (97 credits) and a one-year Paralegal Plus Certificate (57 credits)
- Cost: Washington residents pay $119.13 per credit, non-residents pay $135.04. International students pay $306.92 per credit.
- Contact Director Bruce Lamb (206) 592-4658 or Email: email@example.com
Spokane Community College
- Program Length: Six quarters for the Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies or the Paralegal Certificate
- Cost: $116.05 per credit for in-state, $166.31 for out-of-state, $299.12 for international students or $92.97 for eligible US veterans.
- Contact Mirisa Torres (509) 533-7470 or Email: Mirisa.Torres@scc.spokane.edu
Paralegal Schools in Washington – Summary Table
|South Puget Sound Community College||2011 Mottman Rd SW, Olympia, WA 98512|
|Tacoma Community College||6501 S 19th St, Tacoma, WA 98466|
|Edmonds College||20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036|
|Highline Community College||2400 S 240th St, Des Moines, WA 98198|
|Spokane Community College||1810 N Greene St, Spokane, WA 99217|
Advantages of Becoming a Paralegal: Salaries and Apprenticeships
In addition to their $71,900 median annual salary, Washington paralegals can work as apprentices for 32 or more hours per week under supervision in an attorney’s office, a business legal department, or a general, limited, or appeals courthouse.
However, the clerk must also pay the Washington State Bar Association fees for the bar exam.
Four Washington counties also grant expanded practice privileges, allowing paralegals to present ex parte filings in court.Annual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
|Location||Avg. Annual Salary|
Regional Salary in Washington
|Region||Employed||Avg. Annual Salary||Avg. Hourly Pay||Top 10% Annual Salary||Bottom 10% Annual Salary|
|Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA||80||$56,720||$27.27||$77,310||$37,160|
|Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA||510||$60,900||$29.28||$89,020||$42,740|
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Washington paralegals have to attend ABA-approved education programs to take the bar exam?
No, they can apprentice themselves to an attorney instead.
How do paralegals qualify for the NALA Certified Paralegal Exam?
Current enrollment in or graduation from a paralegal program
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any field
Reaching seven years’ paralegal experience
Which college specifies reduced tuition rates for veterans?
Spokane Community College charges $92.97 per credit to eligible veterans.
Whose program takes the longest to complete?
Tacoma CC and Highline CC have programs that take about two years to complete.
Which professional exam grants a five-year credential?
The Certified Legal Professional/Professional Legal Secretary (CLP/PLS) exam grants a five-year certificate.
Does any program have an unusual requirement?
Yes, the AAS-T at Edmonds College requires two ASL classes.
Which course costs the least?
Edmonds College charges $5000 for the ACP.
How many other states allow apprenticeships in place of paralegal classes?
Three other states allow legal experience instead of ABA-approved paralegal programs.