California is the only state that
regulates paralegals, requiring those who use the title "paralegal," or
"legal assistant," to meet specific educational and/or experience
qualifications and continuing education requirements.
legislation (AB 1761) makes it unlawful for persons to identify
themselves as paralegals or legal assistants unless they meet the
following California requirements:
1. A certificate of completion
from a paralegal program approved by the American Bar Association.
A certificate of completion from a paralegal program at, or a
degree from, a postsecondary institution that requires the
successful completion of a minimum of 24 semester, or equivalent,
units in law-related courses and that has been accredited by a
national or regional accrediting organization or approved by the
Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education.
3. A baccalaureate degree or an
advanced degree in any subject, a minimum of one year of law-related
experience under the supervision of an attorney who has been an
active member of the State Bar of California for at least the
preceding three years or who has practiced in the federal courts of
this state for at least the preceding three years, and a written
declaration from this attorney stating that the person is qualified
to perform paralegal tasks.
4. Note: This option was
available to "grandfather" existing paralegals into the system.
high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, a minimum of
three years of law-related experience under the supervision of an
attorney who has been an active member of the State Bar of
California for at least the preceding three years or who has
practiced in the federal courts of this state for at least the
preceding three years, and a written declaration from this attorney
stating that the person is qualified to perform paralegal tasks.
This experience and training shall be completed no later than
December 31, 2003.
California paralegals have
mandatory continuing legal education requirements.
Certification of the requirements is made with the paralegal's
supervising attorney. It is the paralegal's responsibility to
keep a record of the certifications.
If the continuing education
criteria is not met, the paralegal is in violation of the Business &
Professions Code Section 6450(d).
Paralegal Programs -
The American Bar
Association (ABA) has not
given approval to any correspondence, home-study or entirely online
ABA-approved paralegal programs are allowed to
offer a few on-line courses, but not the entire program.
To find out if your
school's paralegal program is ABA-approved, click
The American Bar Association does
Paralegals may not call themselves "ABA-certified
paralegals" because the ABA's approval applies to the paralegal
education program rather than to the individual paralegal.
If your school has a ABA-approved paralegal
program, your resume should read: Name of
school, ABA-approved program
Other Paralegal Certifications
There is no
mandatory certification examination for paralegals anywhere in the United States.
However some paralegal organizations and associations grant recognition
to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications
specified by that association. It usually involves passing an exam
drawn up the sponsoring organization. Please note that having one of the following certifications, by itself, does not satisfy
California's paralegal educational requirements.
The National Association of Legal
Assistants, Inc. (NALA) sponsors the Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)
and the Advanced Certified Paralegal exams. For information on
the exam, test dates, eligibility requirements, etc., visit
NALA's web site at
The National Federation of
Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) offers the Paralegal Advanced
Competency Examination (PACE). For more information, visit NFPA's
web site at
NALS .the association for legal
professionals, offers three paralegal certifications (ALS, PLS and
PP). For information on the exams, test dates,
eligibility requirements, etc. Visit NALS' website at
The American Alliance of
Paralegals, Inc. offers the AACP. For information on eligibility,
etc., visit AAPI's website at:
Out of State Paralegals
In order to become a paralegal in
California, those coming from out of state must meet the
qualifications of California paralegals, unless they are working
with their law firm on a temporary or loan basis.
find answers by reading
Regarding California Paralegal Requirements
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