California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Paralegals and Legal Assistants* in California

May also be called: Legal Investigators; Judicial Assistants; Probate Paralegals; Real Estate Paralegals; Law Clerks; Court Clerks; and Attorney Assistants

Specialties within this occupation include: Legal Document Assistants

What Would I Do?

Paralegals help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials, and corporate meetings. They research facts of cases, laws, judicial decisions, legal articles, and other materials relevant to their cases.

Most Paralegals work 40 hours per week occupying desks in law offices and law libraries. They may travel to other business locations to perform their duties.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Paralegal will appeal to those who like to start up and carry out projects. Those who tend to enjoy working with ideas and searching for information may find Paralegal work appealing.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Paralegals and Legal Assistants* in California was $59,356 annually, or $28.54 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits for Paralegals usually include vacation, holiday, sick leave, medical, dental, life insurance and retirement plans. Many law firms pay bonuses based on seniority or merit, or a combination of both.

The earnings for paralegals who are self-employed depend upon the type of assignments completed and do not include benefits and retirement.

What is the Job Outlook?

Demand for Paralegals will continue to grow as employers try to reduce costs by hiring Paralegals to perform tasks formerly carried out by lawyers. Contributing to the expanded use of Paralegals is the increasing demand for legal services by a growing population.

How Do I Qualify?

There are several ways of getting into the paralegal profession. A Paralegal can have one or a combination of the following: on-the-job training, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or paralegal certificate.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Paralegals can also register with their school placement center for job leads. The paralegal associations and Internet list job opportunities as well. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Paralegals and Legal Assistants*