How to Become a Paralegal in California

Unlike some other states, those wondering how to become a paralegal in California will have to go about the process a little differently. Like some other states, to become a paralegal in California doesn’t really require licensing. Nevertheless, becoming a paralegal in California does come with legal stipulations. In fact, California has laws that govern the paralegal profession. Under the Business and Professions Code section 6450, the California paralegal requirements for your career path are clearly laid out.

What Is a Paralegal in the State of California?

The law starts with the state’s definition of a paralegal. Basically, it says that a paralegal is someone qualified through education, experience, or training to perform a certain level of legal work for lawyers or the government. The law points out what a paralegal can and cannot do, and, most importantly, the law spells California paralegal requirements to show how someone can become a paralegal in California with full state recognition.

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How Can Someone Meet California Paralegal Requirements?

To meet California paralegal requirements and receive a California paralegal license, legal assistants must complete a paralegal program with ABA accreditation. To achieve this and become a paralegal in California, a student must amass 24 credits from legal courses. Otherwise, legal assistants must obtain a legal studies degree from an accredited school or program. You may qualify with an associate’s degree, but you may have more job market success with a bachelor’s in paralegal or legal studies.

As stated, licensing isn’t necessary to become a paralegal, but going through a certification process to obtain a California paralegal license or other certification can help secure certain types of jobs. This is especially true for working in certain legal specializations. California State Bar paralegal requirements are comparable to the general state’s requirements. The Bar will recognize a paralegal who meets the minimum requirements.

Another avenue towards meeting California paralegal requirements comes with experience. Someone who wants to become a paralegal in California can do so if they have a diploma and three years of law experience working under a member of the State Bar of California. That member can write a declaration stating the person can work as a paralegal. This will satisfy California state bar paralegal requirements.

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In most cases, the path to becoming a paralegal in California will follow the trajectory of completing an accredited paralegal or legal studies program. Obtaining a legal studies bachelor’s degree allows someone to do more than paralegal work should they choose to. A degree also helps with obtaining positions in specific niches or advancing to greater duties.

How Can Someone Remain a Paralegal in California?

After asking how to become a paralegal in California, one should consider how they can stay a paralegal in California. After meeting paralegal requirements and California state bar paralegal requirements, the legal assistant must then maintain their status. Note that a California paralegal license is only necessary for those who work as a paralegal or legal assistant in the public sector.

To maintain a paralegal status in California, anybody who becomes a paralegal in California must then continue with ongoing education. Every two years after becoming a paralegal in California, legal assistants must take four hours of legal ethics education and four hours of general or specialized law education.

How Can Someone Find Work After Becoming a Paralegal in California?

Many of the legal studies programs will help students figure out how to find work as a paralegal. In fact, while it’s not part of the California paralegal requirements, many students will find their programs come with internships and work experience as part of their education.

When figuring out how to become a paralegal in California, it can also help to take a look at the market for paralegals in the state. A paralegal can work in various sectors including public and private. Paralegals can even work for themselves. So, there are a lot of opportunities available for those who want to pursue a career as a paralegal in California.

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