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Paralegal Studies Certificate Program

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Become a Certified Paralegal in Just Six Months

UC Davis Extension’s Paralegal Studies Certificate Program gives you the knowledge, convenience and flexibility to become a certified paralegal in as few as six months. Offered continuously online as well as in the traditional classroom format from June through November each year, our UC-quality curriculum is led by engaging instructors who are leaders in their respective legal careers. The program aligns with the California Business & Professionals Code for paralegal education, ensuring you have the skills to succeed in this high-demand field.

  • Earn your paralegal certificate in six months or fewer
  • Convenient online format lets you schedule your learning to fit your lifestyle or choose the classroom format starting in June
  • Develop a satisfying, high-paying career in this fast-growing field
  • Earn academic credit through the UC Davis School of Law
  • Gain experience with Westlaw and LexisNexis research platforms

Career Outlook

The paralegal industry is expected to grow faster than any other occupation through 2022, with a corresponding rise in salaries:

  • Expected job growth of 19 percent
  • The average salary for paralegals in California was $60,060 in 2013
  • Compensation rates for paralegals went up 6 percent from 2010 to 2012

SOURCES: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association of Legal Assistants Paralegal Utilization & Compensation.

About the Program:

The Fastest Way to Become a Paralegal

If you’ve got the drive and motivation, UC Davis Extension’s Paralegal Studies Certificate Program can help you become certified as a paralegal in as few as six months. Whether you want to invest a few hours each week or power through in a weekend, the flexible, convenient online program structure lets you learn at the pace that fits your schedule. Or you can enroll in the traditional classroom format, which begins each June. The choice is yours!

This distinctive, intensive format is designed to let you continue working while preparing for your career as a paralegal. The program features:

  • Convenience – We offer this program continuously online throughout the year as well as in the classroom from June through November in our downtown Sacramento classrooms – Start the online program anytime and have access 24/7
  • Veteran Instructors – Learn from practicing attorneys and judges who understand the realities of today’s legal environment
  • English and Spanish Materials – Lecture notes, exercises and other course materials available in Spanish (exams must be taken in English)
  • Real-World Learning – Course material teaches useful paralegal skills through relevant, dynamic learning opportunities
  • Exceptional Networking Opportunities – Make critical connections with the instructors, professional associations and peers who can advance your career
  • Career Flexibility – Paralegal skills are in high demand across many industries, giving you flexibility in the job market
  • Immediate ROI – The lessons you learn can be immediately applied in a legal environment, including experience with both Westlaw and LexisNexis research platforms

You’ll earn academic credit sanctioned by the UC Davis School of Law. If you’re already a paralegal, UC Davis Extension courses offer easy access to continuing paralegal education.

The UC Davis Extension program is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The program is also approved by the University of California, Davis—one of the top public universities in the nation.

The program consists of more than 100 contact hours of paralegal-specific skills, with curriculum structured to build upon and reinforce your learning from previous sessions. You’ll complete the program with a clear understanding of modern paralegal duties and the expertise to put them into practice, including:

  • How to conduct legal research and prepare documentation for trials
  • Proven methods for managing clients
  • Litigation procedures and basic appellate processes within the
  • Laws pertaining to personal injury, product liability and malpractice
  • The ability to analyze and draft contracts as well as litigate them


  • Paralegal Studies Certificate Program Essentials
  • Contract Law for Paralegals
  • Tort Law for Paralegals
  • California Procedures for Paralegals

Courses Approved By:

All courses in the Paralegal Studies Certificate Program are approved by UC Davis School of Law.

Estimated Cost:

Tuition for the entire Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is approximately $6,995. The cost of materials ($800) is not included in the tuition fee.

Payment Plan

For the in-person Paralegal program (offered during the summer quarter) only, a convenient payment plan to fit your financial needs is available. Please contact us at (530) 757-8895 or [email protected] for details.


"I took the UC Davis Extension Paralegal Studies Certificate Program to improve my knowledge of law and obtain a professional credential. The program absolutely gave me a competitive edge and allowed me to command a higher salary than I had as an un-certified legal assistant."

Rachel Eckhardt

"Although I've worked in a law office for almost four years, I learned a lot that will help prepare me for my upcoming move to a larger city to be a paralegal. I highly recommend this program!"

Bridgette Campbell

"The professors are excellent. I particularly appreciated their efforts to ensure students truly grasped the concepts taught."

Nanci Henning


Quarterly schedule of courses

Paralegal Studies Certificate Program 21.0OOOC
F=Fall W=Winter SP=Spring SU=Summer; Schedules subject to change.
O = Online C = Classroom OC = Online and Classroom H = Hybrid

Required Courses

Paralegal Studies Certificate Program
21.0 quarter units academic credit 21.0
The paralegal profession continues to be one of the fastest growing career opportunities in the country. A recent survey conducted by ALM Research, a leading source of business intelligence for legal professionals, also indicates compensation for paralegals is rising steadily above the cost of living. Acquire the knowledge you need to enter the paralegal profession through the acclaimed Paralegal Studies Certificate Program, offered online every quarter and in the classroom during the summer. Program highlights include:
  • Instructors who are licensed attorneys
  • Individual access to LexisNexis and Westlaw online legal research
  • Lecture notes, exercises, diagrams, charts, forms, templates, writing and research labs, and mock exams (exams must be taken in English) accessed through the ParaStudent website (in English or Spanish)
  • The UC Davis Extension online and classroom Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is in compliance with California Business & Professions Code 6450 through 6456 regulatory standards for paralegal education

This dynamic certificate program provides you with the skills you need to enter this exciting profession.

Why choose this program over other paralegal programs

The expertise of its instruction, provided by members of the bar association, result is an unparalleled and dynamic educational experience. According to the 2010 Salary Survey by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), paralegals who obtained their training from paralegal certificate programs are among the highest paid.

Who should enroll

  • Legal staff who wish to enhance or advance their careers by earning a professional credential
  • Career changers looking for a professional career with strong compensation
  • Those involved in legal matters who want to gain a clearer understanding of legal processes
  • Those considering law school (this program gives you a distinct advantage)

Comprehensive program

Excellent resource materials--including, texts, workbooks and interactive study support site. Access to a website with additional resources only for program participants, including lecture notes, mock exams, templates and forms, online citation assistance, online court rules, textbook summary and quizzes, chat rooms for instructor and students, and practice exercise questions. Please feel free to test drive our online support materials and experience the UC Davis Paralegal Studies Certificate Program. To visit the test drive site, please go to .

Statement Regarding California Regulatory Requirements

The UC Davis Extension online and classroom Paralegal Studies Certificate Program is in compliance with California Business & Professions Code 6450 through 6456. The California regulations require that a paralegal program offer either 24 semester units or an equivalent amount of hours related to law. This course meets or exceeds the regulatory standard of 360 classroom hours. In addition, students earn up to 21 quarter units of academic credit for the program. Students should expect to devote at least 360 hours of academic work of online and/or face-to-face instruction.

Program outline

Introduction: Paralegal Studies Certificate Program Essentials

Explore legal ethics, legal terminology, legal research and writing, pleading preparation, utilization of forms and form books, legal analysis, client correspondence, interviewing, investigation, citation forms, the specifics of evidence, trial preparation and how to manage your clients.

Advanced Topics

Build upon the introductory portion with more in-depth study of those topics as well as preparation of discovery documents, e-discovery, motions, notices, legal technology, employment strategies, and online legal research with both LexisNexis and Westlaw.

California Procedures for Paralegals

Explore litigation procedures in the state courts of California, from both an academic, as well as a law practitioner's point of view. Receive step-by-step instruction on how to:

  • Prepare summons and complaints
  • Obtain default judgment
  • Prepare answers and cross Complaints
  • Evaluate and draft various pretrial motions and discovery requests
  • Prepare cases for trial and trial related documents and motions
  • Enforce a judgment after trial

In addition, learn the California court system and basic appellate processes, how to interpret and apply California Code of Civil Procedure, California Rules of Court, as well as various local court rules and legal forms.

Tort Law for Paralegals

Gain an understanding of laws pertaining to personal injury, product liability and malpractice. Examine the intentional torts of battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of mental distress, trespass to chattel, trespass to property and conversion. Analyze negligence, breach of duty, causation and damages, liability issues and defenses, and malpractice.

Contract Law for Paralegals

Contracts are involved in virtually every field of law. Focus on the specialized skills of contract drafting, analysis and litigation. Examine several kinds of contracts and draft a contract as a part of your course requirements. Learn about remedies for non-performance (i.e., breach of contract) and third party contracts.

Program Designers

Alyssa Navallo and Daniel Barber are paralegals and nationally-recognized educators who have designed, developed courses and consulted for paralegal programs at some of the most highly respected universities in the United States, including Duke University, DePaul University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Emory University, Rice University, the University of Miami, the University of Tennessee, Xavier University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Admission Criteria

In order to enroll in this program, we recommend you hold either a high school diploma, GED or an advanced degree. In addition, participants need both word processing and basic Internet skills.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:
  • Paralegal Studies Certificate Program Starts: 07/01/2018



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Become a Paralegal

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Become a Paralegal in California

The old song says “It Never Rains in Southern California,” but when it comes to employment for with people with paralegal skills, it rains opportunity throughout the state! From the sunny Southern California coast on up to the north and inland, the state employed 28,500 paralegals as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). And, that doesn’t even include other areas of business where paralegal skills are increasingly in demand.

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Featured Programs

*Whether you’re looking to earn an undergraduate degree in preparation for the Certified Paralegal Exam, or ready to advance your career with a master's degree in legal studies, accredited online programs make it easier than ever to get the education you need:

  • Kaplan University offers an A.A.S. and B.S. in Legal Support Services (Paralegal Concentration)

The annual mean wage for a paralegal in the state was $58,570 in 2012, but a paralegal working only part time can still earn approximately $32,000 per year. The profession is a demanding yet rewarding one, and paralegals who work long hours in certain firms can make as much as $80,000 to $90,000. “Thars gold in them thar hills,” didn’t just apply to the gold rush in the 1800s: California is still a the land of opportunity.

Paralegal Certification

There is no regulated paralegal certification in California. However, in 2000 Assembly Bill 1761 established qualifications for paralegals, and anyone who represents himself or herself as a paralegal must meet one of the listed qualifications, in addition to receiving eight mandatory hours of continuing education every two years. The rules for paralegals are outlined in Business and Professions Code 6450 .

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in California

Paralegal Certificates

  • California State University East Bay

    Legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay area have high regard for California State University’s Paralegal Certificate Program . The 15-week program is designed to fulfill California’s requirements for paralegals, not only for initial employment, but also for mandatory continuing legal education. Students may take courses at the school’s Hayward, Concord or Oakland campuses, and may take some classes online. The university assists graduates in their search for employment before and following graduation.

    • Estimated Program Cost*: $6,900 (as of 2013; Includes all computer lab fees and WestLaw access)
    • Prerequisites: 80 quarter units or 53 semester units of college credit
    • ABA Approved: yes
    • Format: On campus or hybrid online/on-campus
  • California State University, Los Angeles College of Extended Studies

    The Paralegal Studies Certificate Program offered by California State University Los Angeles’ College of Extended Studies and International Programs is a post-baccalaureate certificate geared toward individuals who already have a college degree. It takes an average of five academic quarters to complete this program, and courses are scheduled on weekday evenings to accommodate working students. Students can pursue a general legal track or specialty tracks including litigation, corporate practice or legal technology. Courses are taught by legal professionals, attorneys, paralegals or paralegal supervisors.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $4,800 (as of 2013; fees and textbooks not included)
    • Prerequisites: Associate degree in any field from an accredited institution or completion of the equivalent of the lower division, general education units of a bachelor’s degree program (58 quarter units or 44 semester units of college courses)
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Role of Paralegal
    • Legal Research
    • Civil Procedure
    • Law Office Technology
    • Corporate Law
    • Securities Regulation

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • American River College

    American River College in Sacramento is a public two-year institution that offers an Associate of Arts in legal assisting . The program takes a minimum of two years to complete and its taught by paralegals, legal professionals, attorneys and judges. This course of study complies with the minimum educational preparation required for paralegals by the California Business and Professions Code, and the credits that students earn are transferable to many four-year institutions.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $2,898 for residents; $16,002 for non-residents (based on fall 2013 per credit hour tuition)
    • Prerequisites: The program is open to anyone who is 18 years of age or older and capable of benefiting from the education that is offered
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus or hybrid online/on-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law and the American Legal System
    • Civil Procedure and Litigation
    • Torts and Personal Injury
    • Legal Writing
    • Law Office Management
  • College of the Canyons

    Located in Santa Clarita, a few miles northwest of Los Angeles, the College of the Canyons is a public two-year community college. Its Associate of Arts in paralegal studies educates students in both practical law and legal theory. Students receive training in procedural law with an emphasis on the paralegal’s role, learn investigative, legal research and interview skills and complete internships.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $2,806 for residents; $13,725 for non-residents (based on fall 2013 per credit hour tuition)
    • Requirements: The program is open to high school graduates and anyone over 18 who can profit from instruction
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses

    • Legal research and computerized legal research
    • Family law
    • Contract Law
    • Tort Law
    • Legal Ethics

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • University of La Verne

    The University of La Verne is a four-year private college that was founded in 1891. Their Bachelor of Science in legal studies program prepares students to be effective communicators, have a solid knowledge of the law, understand legal technology, think analytically and understand the practical applications of what they have learned. Legal studies classes are geared for working individuals and each class meets one evening a week.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $72,960 (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition for an accelerated program with 128 semester hours; fees not included)
    • Prerequisites: High School transcript, including four years of English, three years of social science and two years of science (one of which must be a lab); applicants must also have passed or surpassed Algebra 2. Applicants age 25 and above are evaluated by age, number of college-level semester hours completed, cumulative college GPA, work experience and the degree program being pursued.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus
  • John F. Kennedy University

    Located in Pleasant Hill, John F. Kennedy University is a four-year university that offers a Bachelor of Arts degree completion program in legal studies in conjunction with a paralegal certificate. Practicing attorneys comprise the faculty, and students benefit from their professors’ real-world experience. The school emphasizes effective written and oral communication along with developing students’ analytical skills. Students must complete a total of 180 quarter units (including prerequisites) to graduate.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $83,700 (based on 2013-2014 per credit hour tuition if all 180 credits are taken at John F. Kennedy University)
    • Requirements: An associate degree or at least 54 quarter units of college credit.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On-campus

Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

  • Cerritos Community College

    Norwalk, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate of Arts, Certificate

  • Coastline Community College

    Fountain Valley, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate Degree; Certificate

  • Cuyamaca College

    El Cajon, CA

    Degree Offered : Associate in Science

  • DeAnza College

    Cupertino, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate of Arts; Certificate of Achievement-Advanced

  • El Camino College

    Torrance, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate in Science, Certificate of Achievement

  • Los Angeles City College

    Los Angeles, CA

    Degree Offered : Associate in Arts

  • Mount San Antonio College

    Walnut, CA

    Degree Offered : Associate Degree

  • MTI College

    Sacramento, CA

    Degree Offered : Associate Degree

  • National University

    Los Angeles, CA

    Woodland Hills, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate of Science; Bachelor of Science; four Paralegal Specialist certificates.

  • Pasadena City College

    Pasadena, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate Degree, Certificate of Achievement

  • San Francisco State University – College of Extended Learning

    San Francisco, CA

    Degree Offered : Certificate

  • Santa Ana College

    Santa Ana, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate Degree; Certificate

  • University of California, Irvine Extension

    Irvine, CA

    Degree Offered : Certificate

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Extension)

    Los Angeles, CA

    Degree Offered : Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

  • University of California, Riverside Extension

    Riverside, CA

    Degree Offered : Certificate

  • University of California, San Diego

    La Jolla, CA

    Degree Offered : Certificate

  • University of California, Santa Barbara Extension

    Santa Barbara, CA

    Degree Offered : Certificate

  • University of San Diego

    San Diego, CA

    Degrees Offered : Post-Baccalaureate or Post-Associate Certificate

  • West Los Angeles College

    Culver City, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate in Arts; Certificate

  • West Valley College

    Saratoga, CA

    Degrees Offered : Associate in Science, Post-Associate Certificate

Professional Organizations

  • The  Orange County Paralegal Association  (OCPA) is associated with the  National Association of Legal Assistants  (NALA) and is dedicated to furthering the careers of paralegal professionals, while adhering to the highest degree of ethics and professionalism. They provide scholarships and at least one enrollment certificate each year.
  • The California Association of Legal Document Assistants  (CALDA) promotes and encourages high standards of ethical and professional conduct, as well as offers its members educational opportunities, professional alliance, member forum exchange, a website business listing and attorney-approved printed materials.
  • The  Los Angeles Paralegal Association  (LAPA) offers networking opportunities, continuing education programs and opportunities for pro bono work for paralegals and others in the legal community. A member of NALA, it builds and maintains relationships with bar associations, other paralegal associations and businesses that serve the legal community. Paralegal students are encouraged to take advantage of this association’s programs.
  • The  San Francisco Paralegal Association  (SFPA) is a member of the  California Alliance of Paralegal Associations  (CAPA). It is proactive in promoting the high standards of the profession and providing networking and continuing education. To these ends they hold two major networking events each year and host practice sections in various specialty fields such as real estate, intellectual property, litigation and trusts and estates.
  • The  Fresno Paralegal Association  (FPA) sponsors professional activities and offers continuing education for paralegals, while promoting the high standards of the paralegal profession and educating the community.
  • The  Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association  (SVPA) offers education and information for paralegals. It also works to foster and promote the standards of the paralegal profession, as well as to increase attorney and public awareness of paralegals’ role.

Paralegal Resources

  • How to Become a Paralegal
  • Legal Secretary Jobs
  • Legal Transcriptionist Jobs
  • Online Paralegal Studies Degree
  • Paralegal Careers
  • Paralegal Certification
  • Paralegal Salaries
  • What is a Paralegal?
  • LexisNexis Certification

Paralegal Careers

  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Estate Planning and Probate
  • Family Law
  • Immigration Law
  • Labor Law
  • Legal Transcriptionist
  • Litigation
  • Nurse Paralegal
  • Real Estate Law


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  • Ethical dilemmas in the paralegal field – and life!

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