Students looking at a book together in the paralegal library

Photo by Samnang Lim

Our program provides opportunities for  you to develop the skills necessary to pursue a career as legal staff in a variety of areas of practice, from criminal, to personal injury, to business. The Paralegal program features a variety of ways to access a legal education, from a Career Pathway certificate to a two-year degree and a post-degree certificate. You may pursue any of these choices. If you choose the Career Pathway certificate, you need not have any prior college, and your courses will count toward a later Paralegal degree or certificate. Achieving higher levels of education will increase the flexibility and benefits of your career.

Though their roles in the law office are different (see more about the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant), legal assistants and paralegals provide critical support to lawyers, corporations, public institutions, and other employers.

Legal assistants and paralegals work under the supervision of a lawyer, and may not provide legal services directly to the public except as permitted by law.  Our program is largely online and remote, though all Paralegal Certificate and Degree students are required to complete at least 14 quarter credit hours either in-person or in remote classes with a synchronous class component via Zoom. As a Legal Assistant student, you may take as many online courses as you’d like.

The Oregon Employment Department forecasts that Portland-area paralegal employment will grow 15.5% through 2027.

Why choose the Paralegal program at PCC?


The Oregon Employment Department reports that in 2019 Portland area paralegals earned from $18.33 to $49.45 per hour. The average annual salary was $70,817.

The Portland Community College Paralegal program has provided students with the fundamental skills and training necessary for success in the legal field since 1973. Our program provides a balance of legal background and hands-on practical skills through training from lawyers and paralegals practicing in the fields in which they teach. PCC’s Paralegal AAS and post-degree certificate have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) since 2010. The Legal Assistant Career Pathway certificate is not approved by the ABA because the ABA does not approve programs that do not lead to qualification as a paralegal. Learn more about the difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant.

What will you learn?

Class information

    The PCC Legal Assistant Less-than-one-year Certificate is designed to provide you with the skills you need to perform legal assistant roles, including:

    • Client relations and communication
    • Legal terminology
    • Legal research
    • Legal and business technology
    • Basic accounting

    The Paralegal AAS and Certificate programs are designed to provide you with hands-on opportunities to develop skills in:

    • Analyzing legal problems and precedent
    • Interviewing and investigation
    • Assisting with litigation
    • Legal research
    • Understanding substantive and procedural law
    • Communicating effectively orally and in writing

    Learn more in our program overview, which includes information about our program outcomes and goals and ABA approval.

    What will you do?

    As a legal assistant, you may perform the following tasks under the supervision of an attorney:

    • Answering phone calls and greeting clients
    • File creation and management
    • Maintaining schedules, confirming appointments and deadlines
    • Gathering necessary documents and information to begin building a case, such as requesting medical or other records.
    • Managing administrative responsibilities in the legal office.
    • Maintaining confidentiality and upholding ethical responsibilities

    As a paralegal, you may perform the following tasks under the supervision of an attorney:

    • Client intake
    • Document drafting and preparation
    • Managing files
    • Interviewing and investigation
    • Organizing case materials and data for litigation
    • Legal research
    • Maintaining confidentiality and upholding ethical responsibilities

    Who will hire you?

    • Courts
    • Law firms
    • Corporate legal departments
    • Government agencies
    • Public service and nonprofit organizations
    • E-discovery companies

    Transferring and substituting courses

    Learn about our transfer and course substitution policy.

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

    Paralegal program students must complete 14 quarter credit hours of synchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction means students must attend a scheduled class meeting time each week. This restriction is not applicable to Legal Assistant students.