How to Become a Paralegal in Georgia
If you become a paralegal in Georgia, you’ll have many career options since the state has one of the highest concentrations of paralegal jobs in the country. Paralegals assist lawyers by coordinating and preparing the documentation, research and communication necessary for legal proceedings. A paralegal may interact with clients and third parties, interview witnesses, conduct research and file papers with government agencies. Though paralegals can do many tasks that lawyers can, they can’t represent clients in court or advise clients. A paralegal in Georgia must work under the direction of a licensed lawyer who accepts responsibility for their work.
Steps to Become a Paralegal
If a career as a paralegal in Georgia interests you, do the following:
Research the paralegal profession.
Make sure you understand the challenges and opportunities associated with working as a paralegal in Georgia before you commit to an educational program.
Connect with professional paralegals.
Contact local chapters of professional organizations such as Georgia Association of Paralegals (GAP) to get a first-hand perspective of what’s its like to work as a paralegal.
Select an educational program.
A post-secondary education in paralegal studies can give you an edge in competing for the best and highest-paying jobs in the state.
Get involved in the field.
Consider working in entry-level administrative jobs or internships in law firms while you’re still in school. Volunteering with organizations such as Georgia Legal Aid also can be valuable experience when applying for your first job.
Research job opportunities.
Investigate a variety of employers since a paralegal’s responsibilities can vary. Most paralegals work in law firms, but there are many jobs in large businesses and government agencies. You may find a position in an area of specialized law that matches your interests.
Paralegal Education Requirements in Georgia
Georgia does not mandate minimum education requirements for paralegals. However, job applicants with an educational background in paralegal studies you’ll show employers that you’ve made a serious commitment to being a paralegal and have the knowledge to make an immediate contribution. Options for paralegal education in Georgia include online and on-campus programs for:
- Basic paralegal certificates at technical schools and community colleges
- Two-year associate degrees in Paralegal Studies at community colleges, colleges and universities
- Four-year bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies at colleges and universities
- Post-Degree Certificates in Paralegal Studies at colleges and universities
- Voluntary national certifications for experienced paralegals:
- Professional Paralegal (PP) certification from the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)
- Core Registered Paralegal (CRP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Registered Paralegal (RP) certification earned by taking the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) from NFPA
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) from NALA for CP paralegals who master specific courses administered by NALA
Other educational options in Georgia, including master’s degrees in paralegal studies, are available from national online educators.
Paralegal Salary in Georgia
The mean annual wage for paralegals in Georgia is $52,930 in 2016, with Atlanta paying paralegals around $55,170 a year.
Considering the national median annual salary is $49,500, you can see Georgia pays its paralegals well, though number of years experience, and education level, as well as location may play a factor.
Career Opportunities in Georgia
There were 8,170 paralegals employed in Georgia in 2016. About 70 percent, or 6,390 paralegals, work in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area. The area ranks fifth among U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of paralegal jobs.
Job growth for paralegals in Georgia is predicted to be 12 percent through 2026.
Working as a paralegal in Georgia, you’ll benefit from joining national and regional paralegal organizations. By joining these groups, you’ll gain access to opportunities for continuing education, mentoring, certification preparation and volunteering in the state:
- Atlanta Paralegal Association, Inc. (APA), affiliated with National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA)
- Gate City Bar Association (GCBA) Paralegal Section
- Georgia Association of Paralegals (GAP), member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- Southeastern Association of Legal Assistants (SEALA), affiliated with NALA
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