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Legal Studies


The Legal Studies program at American River College is approved by the American Bar Association. ARC’s Legal Studies program has been preparing students for entry-level positions in this profession for over 30 years.

California Business & Professions Code (B & P Code) section 6450 defines a “paralegal” as a person 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 or an attorney practicing law in the federal courts.

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.

Paralegals do not provide legal advice. It is unlawful for anyone not currently licensed to practice law in California to give legal advice.

The law office clerical certificate option is not approved by the American Bar Association and does not prepare students to work as paralegals.

NOTE: Nine (9) semester credits of legal speciality coursework must be completed through synchronous instruction.

Transfer Credit Policy

1. Introduction. Courses transferred to American River College may fulfill requirements of general education, legal specialty courses, or non-legal specialty courses. Legal specialty courses are designed for legal assisting students and emphasize the development of practical paralegal skills. At American River College, legal specialty course are designated with a “LA” prefix.

2. Legal Specialty Courses Defined. “Legal specialty” is a term of art unique to ABA approval. In order for a paralegal course to qualify as legal specialty, it must meet all of the following elements: (1) cover substantive law or legal procedure or process; (2) be developed for paralegals; (3) emphasize practical paralegal skills; and (4) meet the instructional requirements of the ABA.

3. Transfer of Legal Specialty Coursework. A maximum of 9 credit hours of legal specialty (assigned the prefix LA) coursework may be transferred into the program from a nationally accredited, ABA-approved, paralegal studies or legal assisting program.

4. Transfer of Non-Legal Specialty Coursework from Other Institutions. Transfer credit evaluation of general education courses and non-legal specialty courses is handled in accordance with college policies.

5. Time Limit on Transfer of Coursework. Transfer units from other institutions will not be accepted for transfer credit if they are older than three years. The Legal Assisting program requires that a transfer student successfully complete a minimum of 10 hours of face-to-face instruction in the Legal Assisting program at ARC.

Degrees and Certificates Offered

  • A.A. in Paralegal Studies
  • Law Office Clerical Assistant Certificate
  • Paralegal Studies Certificate