6 Best Paralegal Schools in San Francisco, CA

California’s paralegals have exciting and fast-paced legal careers.

Today’s paralegals work as indispensable members of legal teams to provide real-time, hands-on support for practicing attorneys and judicial officials.

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If you’re thinking about starting a career as a paralegal and you live in San Francisco, this is the guide for you!

Our guide takes an in-depth look at how to become a paralegal in San Francisco through a combination of substantive legal experience and state-approved education.

We provide important details about paralegal salaries and certifications, followed by an overview of some of the best paralegal programs in the area.

Read on to learn how to become a paralegal in San Francisco and find out which schools meet California’s stringent standards for paralegal education.

Best Paralegal Schools in San Francisco

California’s paralegals aren’t required to have an occupational license.

Still, they must meet the minimum education and training standards set forth by the state.

The best paralegal schools in San Francisco offer a wide range of educational pathways, from paralegal certificates to Juris Doctorate degrees that meet state minimum education requirements.

The San Francisco Paralegal Association reports that local paralegal programs must be compliant with California Business and Professions Code §§ 6450 et al.

Most of the programs below offer campus-based and web-based options for paralegal studies.

Some programs provide completely online self-paced options, while others include hybrid instructor engagement.

Prospective paralegals should choose the best program that aligns with their education and credentialing goals.

Talk to your paralegal program advisor to learn more about application and admissions requirements, financial aid options for qualified students, and job placement assistance services for paralegal graduates.

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1 San Francisco State University

The College of Professional and Global Education invites California-based paralegals to earn a certificate of completion online.

Their ABA-approved program has been providing local students with paralegal education for over 25 years.

This program emphasizes the fundamentals of civil litigation and meets the rigorous standards set forth by the state.

SFSU students spend up to one year completing a sequence of self-paced and instructor-led paralegal courses that equip them with the legal knowledge and skills needed to work for legal employers, lawyers, and supporting judicial officials across the state of California.

Program graduates will earn 30 academic units when they complete all 10 classes in the recommended sequence.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Law and Civil Procedure
  • Communication Skills and Legal Ethics
  • Introduction to Professional Legal Writing
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Advanced Litigation
  • Legal Electives

Contact Information

  • Address: 160 Spear Street, San Fransisco, California - 94105
  • Phone: 415-405-7700
  • Website: Visit School Website

2 Skyline College

Skyline College awards a Paralegal Certificate of Achievement to graduates who complete their ABA-approved paralegal certificate program.

Future paralegals work at their own pace in this entirely online training course, which readies them to meet California paralegal standards and take national certification exams.

This training program combines online self-study with face-to-face instructor engagement for a total web-based solution.

California-based students gain a foundational introduction to US and local laws, along with legal research and writing skills.

Courses Offered

  • Paralegal Profession
  • Legal Research Writing and Analysis
  • Constitutional Law and Supreme Court Jurisprudence
  • Civil Litigation
  • Concepts of Criminal Law
  • Legal Aspects of Evidence

Contact Information

  • Address: 3300 College Drive, San Bruno, California - 94066
  • Phone: 650-738-4100
  • Website: Visit School Website

3 Chabot College

Chabot College offers comprehensive paralegal education that trains local students on the legal fundamentals needed to work in law offices supporting local attorneys.

Their self-paced program allows students up to one year to complete foundational legal courses, where they learn about the foundations of the US legal system and the California legal system and how to ethically support practicing local attorneys.

This program is not currently ABA-approved but is highly recommended by the San Francisco Paralegal Association.

Certificate-based students can earn 24 credit hours in 8 paralegal courses taught by licensed and practicing attorneys.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Paralegal Studies
  • Litigation and Civil Procedure
  • Computer Applications and E-Discovery for Paralegals
  • Contract Law
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Professional Responsibility and Ethics

Contact Information

  • Address: 25555 Hesperian Boulevard, Hayward, California - 94545
  • Phone: 510-723-6973
  • Website: Visit School Website

4 University of California - Berkeley Extension

Paralegal hopefuls in the Golden State can take a step closer to paralegal certification by enrolling in self-paced legal studies at the University of California’s Berkeley Extension.

This web-based program allows students up to one year to immerse themselves in an always-on legal learning environment and absorb the concepts of legal research, civil procedure, criminal law, and paralegal electives.

This prestigious paralegal program meets the standards of the California Business and Professions Code and sets the stage for national certification.

Courses Offered

  • Essential Paralegal Studies
  • Foundational Paralegal Skills
  • E-Discovery Process and Practice
  • Paralegal Contract Law
  • Paralegal Criminal Law
  • Paralegal Intellectual Property Law

Contact Information

  • Address: 1995 University Avenue, Berkeley, California - 94704
  • Phone:
  • Website: Visit School Website

5 Merritt College

Merritt College has two educational pathways leading to entry-level paralegal employment.

It offers a two-year associate of applied sciences degree that teaches students the fundamentals of the law and legal profession, as well as how to use legal technology and conduct legal research.

Its certificate program offers a shorter version of the degree program.

It provides students with essential skills for entry-level certification and employment.

Courses Offered

  • Criminal Law
  • Family Law
  • Law Office Management
  • Introduction to Business Law
  • Introduction to Tort Law
  • Advanced Legal Research and Writing
  • Introduction to Civil Procedure Litigation and Practice

Contact Information

  • Address: 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland, California - 94619
  • Phone: 510-587-7800
  • Website: Visit School Website

6 California State University - East Bay

California State University at East Bay delivers ABA-approved paralegal education to students seeking to make quick entry into the legal profession.

Their certificate program comprises ten core legal courses, legal electives, and an optional internship where students can sharpen their legal skills.

CSU’s program is designed in an easily accessible web-based format that allows students up to one year to complete mandatory and elective courses.

Students have the option to take their classes self-paced or via Zoom in instructor-led sessions.

This paralegal certificate program meets in the evenings and lasts for eight weeks.

Courses Offered

  • Introduction to Paralegalism
  • Introduction to Law
  • Litigation I and II
  • Contract Law
  • Personal Injury and Tort Litigation
  • Paralegal Internship

Contact Information

  • Address: 25800 Carlos Bee Boulevard, Hayward, California - 94542
  • Phone: 510-885-3605
  • Website: Visit School Website

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 San Francisco State University
#2 Skyline College
#3 Chabot College
#4 University of California - Berkeley Extension
#5 Merritt College
#6 California State University - East Bay

Paralegal Salary Information

Working as a paralegal can become a lucrative career with a well-paying salary for committed professionals.

San Fransisco’s top-earning paralegals report bringing in over $96,000.00 per year.

The average annual wage for certified paralegals in San Francisco is $84,968.00.

Even the lowest-paid paralegals in the city make an average salary of over $75,000.00 per year.

Legal assistants looking to increase their salary can consider continuing their education, earning advanced legal certifications, and working for top-paying legal employers in the area.

Paralegals who take on a legal specialty area where their skills are in high demand can also see a salary increase.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in San Francisco, CA

City Name Salary
San Francisco $84,968

Become a Paralegal in San Francisco

The first thing to know about becoming a paralegal in San Francisco is that the California Bar Association outlines strict educational standards for paralegal education.

Paralegals working within the state of California must attend ABA or NALA-approved programs to qualify for entry-level employment and national certification.

Step #1. – Finish High School

Completing high school or earning a GED is the first step towards becoming a highly sought-after certified paralegal in San Francisco. California’s paralegal programs are offered by post-secondary institutions, colleges, and vocational schools, and proof of high school graduation is required upon application.

Step #2. – Find the Best Paralegal Studies Program

Local students who have completed their high school education can begin researching local paralegal programs to find their best fit.

California’s paralegals can take paralegal studies through campus-based training programs or online.

Choose the program that aligns with your certification goals, lifestyle, budget, and schedule.

Step #3. Apply for Paralegal Certification

Graduates of paralegal diplomas, certificates, and degree programs are eligible to take national certification exams and work as entry-level legal assistants.

Applicants can earn the Certified Paralegal designation from the National Association of Legal Assistants by completing an application and passing the national certification exam.

California Business and Professional Code 6450 states that paralegals must have a minimum of one of the following to provide legal support services within the state. 

  • Certificate of Completion of a Paralegal Program
  • Completion Certificate from an ABA-Approved Paralegal Studies Program
  • Certificate of Completion from a Post-secondary Institution
  • Baccalaureate Degree – Any Discipline
  • Advanced Degree with One Year of Supervised Law Related Experience
  • High School Diploma or GED with 3 Years of Supervised Law Related Experience

The minimum state requirements listed above are in alignment with NALA certification standards.

Step #4. – Find A Paralegal Job in California

Paralegals who meet educational, experience, and credentials requirements are ready to begin providing legal support services for local attorneys, court systems, governments, and a host of other legal employers seeking certified paralegal services.

The best paralegal programs feature job placement assistance and career support services for graduates.

Check with your program director to learn if your paralegal studies program includes job placement assistance.

Step #5. – Renew Your Credentials

Certified paralegals must periodically renew their certification credentials based on the schedule provided by their certification agency.

The schools listed below offer introductory paralegal education and continuing legal education courses that can satisfy recertification requirements.

Visit your certification authority website to learn what courses and legal support activities qualify for CLE credits.

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

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