Although many states do not require paralegals to have a formal education, California does. Within the state, the California State Assembly established a definition of both “legal assistant” and “paralegal.” This definition also states educational requirements of the positions. This includes mandatory continuing education courses for individuals working in California as a paralegal.
In order to be a paralegal in the state of California an individual must complete a paralegal certificate program either within the state or from an out of state institution. The program must be approved by the American Bar Association.
The state actually does not have formal certification requirements for paralegals aside from the education requirements. However, most employers prefer that an individual obtain paralegal certification from one of these national organizations: NALA (National Association of Paralegal Associations), NFPA (National Federation of Paralegal Associations), or AAPI (American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc.).
Most of the schools in California that offer paralegal programs are community colleges. There are private vocational schools as well as universities that offer paralegal studies as well. There are certificate programs, associate degree programs, bachelor degree programs, and higher education degrees as well.
When choosing a paralegal school in the state of California, it is important to make sure that the program is approved not only by the American Bar Association, but is accredited and approved by the state as well. This will ensure that upon completion of the program you will be able to practice as a paralegal in the state.
Consider a school that is located in an area where you would like to work. Many of the programs offered will require an internship for graduation. Going to school in the area that you wish to work is a great way to get your foot in the door for a job once you graduate.