Top University for Paralegal Studies - Los Angeles, CA

Few schools in the Los Angeles area have top ranking paralegal study programs. Read on to find out more about what the top schools have to offer for paralegal studies, as well as tuition and degree information.

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Top Universities in Los Angeles, California, for Paralegal Studies

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the minimum education requirement for paralegals is an associate degree or a certificate but that employers also prefer some work experience in a law office. Certification for paralegals - also called legal assistants - is available through the National Association for Legal Assistants (NALA); those who have met certain professional and educational experience requirements are eligible to sit for the certification exam, but it is not required to qualify for a position in this field.

California State University - Los Angeles (CSULA), the University of California - Irvine (UCI), and the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), are the top 3 schools in the Los Angeles area to offer paralegal programs approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and each school's paralegal program meets the education requirements to allow graduates to sit for NALA certification. These 3 schools' rankings are based on location, the availability of internship opportunities, regional and national standing, and program offerings. CSULA stands out as the top choice based on its variety of paralegal program offerings, internship opportunities, and proximity to downtown. UCI and UCLA offer prospective paralegals a chance to study at nationally ranked schools, and both universities also provide competitive preparation for careers in this field. However, UCLA does not offer internship opportunities.

School Comparison Chart

Category California State University - Los Angeles University of California - Irvine (Extension) University of California - Los Angeles (Extension)
Rankings #89 among regional universities in the West*, #38 of public schools among regional universities in the West* #44 among national universities*, #12 of public schools among national universities *#24 among national universities*, #2 of public schools among national universities*
Location Los Angeles, CA**Irvine, CA (35.8 miles from downtown Los Angeles)** Los Angeles, CA**
School Type 4-year public** 4-year public**4-year public**
Estimated Program Cost $6,000 (for 32 units, including textbooks), July 2012*** approximately $5,500-$6,500 (for 30 units, including fees and textbooks), March 2013***$7,995 (for 38.25 units, including textbooks and materials), 2013***
Paralegal Programs Offered Paralegal Certificate Program (4 tracks) Paralegal Certificate ProgramParalegal Studies Certificate Program
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 37% (3% transfer-out rate)** 86% (10% transfer-out rate)**92%**
Noteworthy Tuition discounts available for members of the UCI Alumni Association and for members of the Los Angeles Paralegal Association*** Internships are available for paralegal students***Current students and graduates of this program are offered career counseling and job placement assistance***

Sources: *US News and World Report (2013 data), **NCES College Navigator, ***Schools' websites

Winner: California State University - Los Angeles

  • All courses are taught by CSU-qualified adjunct instructors who are currently working professionals in the legal field
  • Students can complete certificate requirements in 1 of 4 tracks
  • The CSULA library offers paralegal students access to online databases and on-reserve paralegal materials
  • The nearby Los Angeles County Law Library provides CSULA students with access to its extensive collection of legal holdings - the 2nd largest in the US
  • Students enrolling in this program must hold an associate or bachelor's degree, or they must have completed the general education requirements for a bachelor's degree program

California State University - Los Angeles offers a professional certificate program for prospective paralegals; this program requires the completion of 32 units and typically takes about 5 quarters to complete. Students can follow the general track, and 3 special tracks - in corporate practice, litigation, and legal technology - are also available. The option to pursue a dual specialization is also offered, though this may require the completion of more than the 8 classes required for single-track students. Courses for this program are offered in the evening.

CSULA's paralegal program aims to prepare prospective job seekers in this field with practical experience through internship opportunities. Furthermore, program goals include training students in current legal and ethical practices, as well as the communication and technical skills, to successfully assist practicing attorneys.

Runner-Up #1: University of California - Irvine (Extension)

  • Career and program counseling is available for prospective, current, and former paralegal students
  • Paralegal program faculty include working paralegals, and several instructors hold Juris Doctor degrees
  • A prerequisite for this program is a bachelor's degree

The University of California - Irvine offers a 30-unit post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate program through UCI Extension. This program was developed and is regularly evaluated with the help of an advisory committee of working professionals in the fields of education, law, and government. Students in this program are offered training in subjects including legal ethics, research, litigation, legal technology, and various aspects of American law.

This program is typically completed in 1 or 1.5 years and classes meet once a week, in the evening. At least half of the 30 total required units must be completed in a traditional classroom format, but the remainder can be completed online.

Runner-Up #2: University of California - Los Angeles (Extension)

  • Internship opportunities are not available for students in the paralegal program
  • The paralegal program faculty, which includes practicing attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals, is approved by UCLA's School of Law
  • The UCLA School of Law is ranked #17 among top law schools, according to US News and World Report
  • Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree or a combination of approved experience and education

The University of California - Los Angeles Extension programs offer students an opportunity to achieve personal enrichment or career goals without having to matriculate in a formal degree program at this nationally ranked school. UCLA Extension's paralegal program aims to prepare future legal professionals to work under the supervision of practicing lawyers, and it offers training for jobs in a variety of settings, including law firms, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

The paralegal studies certificate program at UCLA Extension is comprised of 38.25 units, which can be completed in 2 different formats. Students seeking an intensive 5-day-a-week daytime program can complete their requirements in as little as 5 months, or the evening program can be completed in about 12 months. The latter program consists of 2 evening classes per week. All paralegal students are required to achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.0 to qualify to sit for the culminating exam. Certificates will be conferred only to those who complete all program requirements, which includes passing this comprehensive exam.

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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts campus Boston
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
        • Legal Assistant or Paralegal
  • School locations:
    • Kentucky campus Louisville
    Areas of study you may find at University of Louisville include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
        • Legal Assistant or Paralegal
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee campus Chattanooga
    Areas of study you may find at The University of Tennessee include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
      • Legal Support Services
        • Legal Assistant or Paralegal
  • School locations:
    • Mississippi campus University
    Areas of study you may find at University of Mississippi include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Legal
      • Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Corrections
      • Legal Research and Professional Studies
      • Legal Support Services
        • Court Reporting
        • Legal Assistant or Paralegal

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