Become a Paralegal in Washington

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Paralegals in Washington have the best of both worlds: it’s a state that is a great place to live and a rewarding place to work. In addition to the wealth of opportunities for mountain hiking and sking, recreational fishing and water sports are job opportunities: as of May 2012, over 5,800 paralegals work there, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On average, these paralegals earn an hourly wage of $24.87, with an annual mean wage of $51,730. Paralegals in prime positions and those who get a lot of overtime can make as much $75,000. Even those working part time could take home as much as $31,080.

*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:

Washington University School of Law offers an online Master of Legal Studies (MLS) program. This 12-month master's degree allows paralegals to gain in-depth knowledge of US Law. The program can be completed without relocating or leaving your job. No GRE or LSAT scores required.


The variety of positions available for those with paralegal training allows an individual to work in an area that interests them. Human resource websites such Indeed and Career Builder show that paralegal positions are available not only within law firms, but also within government agencies, NGOs and a wide range of businesses. Fortunately, schools throughout Washington can help aspiring paralegals gain the skills necessary to work in these roles.

Washington Paralegal Certification

Paralegal certification is not required in the state of Washington; however, in June 2012, the Supreme Court of Washington adopted the Limited Practice Law for Limited Licence Legal License Technicians (APR 28), which authorized non-attorneys who meet certain educational requirements (known as Limited Licensed Legal Technicians) to advise and assist clients in approved practice areas of law.

It should be noted that that a paralegal can still provide a number of services under the supervision of an attorney without becoming a Limited Licence Legal Technician. That said, paralegal certification and continuing education are definite assets in being hired for the prime paralegal positions in law firms, government and industry.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Washington State

Paralegal Certificates

  • Spokane Community College

    Spokane Community College is located in eastern Washington, in the second-largest city in the state. Its paralegal certificate course of study is a 63- to 68-credit program that fosters students’ understanding of the law and legal processes and allows them to put this knowledge into practice through an internship and supervised work experience. Because of this school’s proximity to both Montana and Idaho, students are prepared to step into positions in these two states rather than just in Washington. A legal nurse certificate program is also offered.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $7,174 for state residents; $9,890 for non-residents with waivers; $18,870 for international students (based on 2012-2014 per credit hour tuition and fees) Residency exceptions are made for Idaho reciprocity, eligible veterans and members of the National Guard, some international students and those with refugee status.
    • Prerequisites: Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science in Legal Secretary, Associate of Applied Science in Legal Administrative Assistant, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from an accredited college or university.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law
    • Washington and Idaho Court Rules
    • Legal Research and Writing
    • Instrument Drafting
    • Law Office Computing
  • Edmonds Community College

    Just north of Seattle, on Washington’s beautiful west coast, Edmonds Community College (ECC) offers two paralegal certificates. Its 35-credit Advanced Paralegal Certificate is designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree or will earn such a degree during the course of the program. Similarly, its 30-credit Medical Paralegal Certificate is designed for students who have a nursing degree or diploma or will earn one by the time they complete the certificate program; students learn about law and legal procedures specific to medical issues and graduates may find work in law firms, hospitals, insurance companies and consulting firms.

    • Estimated Program Cost for Advanced Certificate: $3,739 for state residents; $9,759 for non-residents; $2,805 for eligible veterans (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Estimated Program Cost for Medical Paralegal Certificate: $3,205 for state residents; $8,365 for non-residents; $2,404 for eligible veterans (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites for Advanced Certificate: Bachelor’s degree or completion of such a degree during the course of the program<
    • Prerequisites for Medical Paralegal Certificate: Nursing degree or diploma or completion of either during the course of the program
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus or hybrid (on campus and online)

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law and the Legal Process
    • Civil Procedures
    • Legal Research Contracts
    • Medical Paralegal Law
    • Interviewing and Investigation Techniques

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Highline Community College

    Highline Community College‘s paralegal Associate in Applied Science program offers highly interactive courses, along with field-based internships. The program is designed for students with strong verbal and written skills and is designed to produce graduates who communicate effectively, are able to write at a level consistent with the accepted standards of the legal profession, can analyze and articulate arguments, are proficient in technology found in the legal environment and can work independently.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $10,150 for state residents; $11,385 for non-residents eligible for waiver; $26,490 for non-residents and international students (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition for 95 credit hours)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent; minimum COMPASS reading score of 88 or ASSET reading score of 45; minimum COMPASS writing score of 65 or ASSET writing score of 40
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Civil Procedures I & II
    • Legal Research & Writing I & II
    • Advanced Law Office Technology
    • Constitution Law & Issues
    • Sports Law and Issues of Diversity
  • South Puget Sound Community College

    South Puget Sound Community College‘s Associate in Applied Science paralegal program is designed with the recognition that nearly everything we do is in some way impacted by laws. Students learn analytical thinking, how to collect and organize facts, document preparation and other skills that will aid them in assisting attorneys in law firms, or stepping into positions at banks, insurance companies, real estate firms and other corporations. Classes also help students hone their writing and computer skills. Core courses are offered only in the evening to accommodate the majority of students who work during the day.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $9,616 for state residents; $10,786 for out-of-state students; $25,096 for international students (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: The program is open to anyone age 18 or over who could benefit from it. Those under 18 may be admitted if they are participating in the Running Start Program or have a high school diploma or GED.
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Legal Systems and Procedures
    • Legal Forms
    • Civil Procedure
    • Technology in the Law Office
    • Investigation and Interviewing
  • Tacoma Community College

    Tacoma Community College‘s Associate of Applied Science paralegal program prepares students to assist attorneys by helping them become proficient in oral and written skills, communicate clearly and understand the technology used in the paralegal field. They learn to think analytically, multitask, recognize ethical issues and be flexible in their working environment.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $10,959 for state residents; $25,625 for non-residents; $11,156 for non-residents on waiver; $12,163 for refugee non-residents (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Requirements: The program is open to anyone age 18 or over who could benefit from it; those under 18 may be admitted if they are participating in the Running Start Program or have a high school diploma or GED. Students must also pass assessments in college-level English and reading.
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: Hybrid – Online/On-campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Professional Document Production
    • Writing Basics for Paralegals
    • Paralegal Fundamentals & Ethics
    • Legal Research & Writing I & II
    • Computer Applications of the Law
    • Transition Planning

Additional Paralegal Educational Programs

Professional Organizations

  • The Washington State Bar (WSB) oversees the regulation of lawyers in the state of Washington and frequently liaisons with paralegal associations regarding professional standards.
  • The Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) has nine chapters throughout the state. Members receive a subscription to the organization’s newsletter,”Findings and Conclusions,” which covers statewide and national issues relevant to paralegals, and are automatically members of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). They can also take advantage of networking opportunities, a job bank and reduced rates at networking events, the State Convention and the biennial Legal Resource Seminar.
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