California Paralegals Facts and Figures
- Length of Paralegal Study: 1 to 4 years
- Almost 75 percent of paralegals work for law firms
- Largest Law Firms in California: Latham & Watkins; Morrison & Foerster
Paralegal School in California
Unlike most states, California does have formal paralegal education requirements. The California State Assembly has established a legal definition of "paralegal" and "legal assistant." It also states the educational requirements—including mandatory continuing education—for California paralegals:
- Earn a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal school in California (outside paralegal certificates are also accepted)
- Complete a state-approved or accredited paralegal program
Alternatively, if you hold a bachelor's or advanced degree in any subject, with at least one year of law-related experience under attorney supervision, you can also use the title "paralegal." Refer to the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations (CAPA) website for more details.
California's Paralegal Job Market
A sampling of Internet job websites shows a high concentration of paralegal job openings in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. CAPA suggests reading trade periodicals and investigating legal employment agencies to get the latest information on the most in-demand legal specialties and the hottest job markets in the state. You'll also have an added advantage if you speak Spanish since it's so widely spoken in California.
Salary Information for California Paralegals
Below are median paralegal salaries for some of the largest cities in California:
|City||Median Annual Salary*|
Sources: Salary.com January 2014; California Paralegal II.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Although California does not have formal certification requirements for its paralegals, you must comply with the statutory paralegal education requirements described above in order to legally use the title of "paralegal." In addition, many employers prefer—or even require—paralegal certification. You can earn national paralegal certification through the following organizations:
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI)
The Commission for Advanced California Paralegal Specializations (CACPS) offers an Internet-based advanced certification program for experienced California paralegals who want to specialize. Certified legal assistants (CLAs) who complete the online certification program earn the designation California Advanced Specialist (CAS).
California Paralegal Resources
Current and future California paralegals will want to check the career resources and job banks at the following organizations: