School and Ranking Information
There are more than two dozen options for students in the Los Angeles area who are interested in becoming a paralegal. The following schools are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), and each school's paralegal program meets the education requirements to allow graduates to sit for National Association for Legal Assistants (NALA) certification. The top schools, based on location, the availability of internship opportunities, regional and national standing, and program offerings, are:
- Winner: California State University - Los Angeles (CSULA) stands out as the top choice based on its variety of paralegal program offerings, internship opportunities, and proximity to downtown.
- Runner-Up #1: University of California - Irvine (UCI) is a nationally ranked school. It offers a paralegal certificate program, and paralegal students can take advantage of career counseling services.
- Runner-Up #2: University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) came in third because it does not offer internship opportunities, though it's a highly ranked national university and has the highest graduation rate of these three institutions.
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 Program||Paralegal 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.