Paralegals are in demandParalegals

Bordwell & Associates

"Paralegals are the legal profession's energy cells.

They know  what needs to be done and they do it."  

 

 

California Paralegal Requirements


wave mark California Paralegal Requirements

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. 

California 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.

2.   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.  A 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.

wave mark Continuing Education

  • 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).

wave mark Online Paralegal Programs - Buyer Beware

  • The American Bar Association (ABA) has not given approval to any correspondence, home-study or entirely online paralegal program. 

  • ABA-approved paralegal programs are allowed to offer a few on-line courses, but not the entire program.

wave mark ABA Certification

  • The American Bar Association does not certify Paralegals. 

  • 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

  • To find out if your school's paralegal program is ABA-approved,  click California or USA

wave mark 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 www.nala.org.

     

  • The National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) offers the Paralegal Advanced Competency Examination (PACE). For more information, visit NFPA's web site at www.paralegals.org.

     

  • 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 www.nals.org.

     

  • The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. offers the AACP. For information on eligibility, etc.,  visit AAPI's website at: www.aapipara.org/Certification.htm.

wave mark 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.

 

wave mark Paralegal Associations

wave mark Have Questions?

You will find answers by reading Questions Regarding California Paralegal Requirements 

 

 

Didn't find your answer?  Call or email us your questions. 

We are happy to assist you.

 

Bordwell & Associates

 

949.724.1466

 

Email:  Bordwell@wedolegal.com

 

Our conversations are always confidential

 

 

Memo to New Paralegals


Please memorize the following:

  1. When you start your career you know nothing, even though you think you know everything. 

  2. There is no such thing as a forty-hour work week.

  3. Always have an attorney supervise your work.

  4. Respect the experienced paralegal; one day you will have that job.  

  5. Have fun.  "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."  

 

 

What Clients Look for in a Paralegal


wave mark Writing and Research Skills 

Law firms expect the best.  Work at improving your spelling, grammar and writing skills.  If you need help, get it. There are sites on the Internet that will help you. Also, proofread everything, twice.  

wave mark Attitude, Interest, Enthusiasm, Dedication 

Paralegal employers search for high-energy paralegals who are professional, upbeat, flexible and capable of asking for projects.  

wave mark Communication Skills

Perfect yours.  You must have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, why you are doing it and when it is due.  No excuses.

wave mark Organization

Control your workload. Stay organized, learn to prioritize and be aware of time constraints.  Don't take on so many projects that you miss deadlines. 

wave mark Computer Knowledge

Learn how to use the Internet and advanced features on software programs.   Most frequently used programs are Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook,  WordPerfect, Concordance, Summation, Carpe Diem, Westlaw, LexisNexis, PACER.  If you need help, visit our Testing and Resource Center.

wave markEducation and Experience

Most large business, corporate or patent law firms require a Bachelor's degree and a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved paralegal program

People-related law firms such as personal injury, insurance defense, workers' compensation, immigration, family law and probate firms place more value on your talent and less on the degree.  

Note to legal secretaries:  

  • If you have a paralegal certificate, some firms will waive the Bachelor's degree requirement in recognition of your years of experience as a legal secretary.  

  • If you have a Bachelor's degree but lack the certificate, it's time to go back to school.  It might be easier than you think.  Taking paralegal classes can sharpen your skills and increase your  knowledge, enhancing your value to your employer.

wave mark Salary

Paralegals stay approximately 5-8 years on the same job.  The highest salaries go to paralegals with advanced degrees or those who have a CLA or CLAS credential.  They also have the highest bill rate.

wave mark Billing

Paralegals need to bill three times the amount of their salary for a firm to be profitable:   one-third salary, one-third overhead and one-third firm profit.

wave mark Evaluations - Your value is based on

  • What you know

  • What you can do

  • How well you do it

  • How long it takes you

  • What it costs the client

  • What it costs the firm

wave mark Have Questions?

Please call or email us your questions.  We are happy to assist you.

Bordwell & Associates

 

949.724.1466

 

Email:  Bordwell@wedolegal.com

 

Our conversations are always confidential

 

 

 

Profit Calculator

 Are You a Profit Center for the Firm?  Let's find out


Enter an equation (no commas) and click "Calculate"  The result will be your proper bill rate.

Equation:  Annual Salary *3/Annual Billable Hours Requirement

Example:  If your salary is $60,000 and your annual billable hours requirement is 1800,

type  60000*3/1800 in the equation box and click "calculate".

The result should be 100, which is the proper bill rate.

Equation Result

 

 

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