Prospective Students

What is a Paralegal?

Per the American Bar Association, "a paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible." (ABA House of Delegates, 2020)

California has also codified the definition of a paralegal in its Business and Professions Code:

"'Paralegal' means a person who holds himself or herself out to be a paralegal, who is qualified by education, training, or work experience, who either contracts with or is employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity, and who performs substantial legal work under the direction and supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California, as defined in Section 6060, or an attorney practicing law in the federal courts of this state, that has been specifically delegated by the attorney to him or her. Tasks performed by a paralegal include, but are not limited to, case planning, development, and management; legal research; interviewing clients; fact gathering and retrieving information; drafting and analyzing legal documents; collecting, compiling, and utilizing technical information to make an independent decision and recommendation to the supervising attorney; and representing clients before a state or federal administrative agency if that representation is permitted by statute, court rule, or administrative rule or regulation." (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 6450 et seq.)

Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

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Begin quote After graduating from San Diego State University, I was unsure about what I wanted to do. I knew that I needed marketable skills and a good reputation to back them up. The USD Paralegal Program offered both opportunities. I was able to enroll in the intensive day program and earn my Paralegal Certificate within four months. The skills and general information I received at USD have prepared me well for my career as a paralegal. I owe much gratitude to the USD Paralegal Program and staff. – Kristen T., Paralegal