In today’s world the criminal justice field has become one of the fastest-growing career paths for graduates. Working adults and new graduates in Georgia have a wealth of opportunities to earn a degree and become a paralegal. Getting a degree in paralegal studies will provide the graduate student with more job opportunities within the criminal justice field. For example, receiving an associate degree can allow the student to get a basic understanding or background of the paralegal field. However, if the student goes on for their bachelor’s in paralegal studies, he will learn the basics plus receive a more in-depth understanding of criminal law.
Georgia has had five straight years of good economic growth. This has allowed the criminal justice field to flourish. Licensing has also been popular in some states. Georgia does not actually require a paralegal to have a license to practice; however, they do require that all paralegals work under a licensed lawyer. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the paralegal field is projected to increase to twelve percent by 2024. At this rate, there have been around 280 more jobs for paralegals every year, during the past few years.
Ranking the Best Accredited Paralegal Programs in Georgia
Online Paralegal Programs editors look at paralegal education with an eye toward value. After all, the choice of the paralegal as a profession should be made with full awareness of the potential. That’s why the best paralegal programs in Georgia are ranked according to practical factors: Cost, Job Placement, and Salary Potential, using data from College Scorecard and IPEDS. All programs are accredited, and many are ABA-approved.
1. University of Georgia
The Paralegal Certificate at the University of Georgia in Athens prepares the student with a flexible classroom setting at an affordable price. The paralegal certificate program is available online and on-campus; it provides students with the legal skills for interviewing, investigating, and conducting research for the paralegal field. The program at the University is also one of the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The online paralegal certificate program is fourteen weeks long and courses on campus take about eight weeks. It is available for either Friday or Saturday.
The University of Georgia for continuing education is part of the public service and outreach division of the University. The school is amid downtown Athens and offers several courses of interest, including accounting, healthcare, and business and leadership. The college provides a beautiful hotel, offering over 200 beds for its guests. Inside there is a huge conference center used for educational meetings and special events, including youth programs for local students.
Program: Paralegal Certificate
2. University of North Georgia
The AAS in Paralegal Studies is one of the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The program teaches students how to develop a strong knowledge of the legal field, build technological and ethical skills, and apply their understanding of the legal system to the workplace. The associate degree of applied science in paralegal studies at UNG is a challenging yet rewarding field for students interesting in going on to law school as well. The paralegal program will prepare students in core courses of criminal law, legal research, and civil litigation. The UNG paralegal program is affordable to most students; however, some scholarship opportunities are available.
UNG is in Oakwood, a small town just northeast of the Capital, Atlanta. It is also a short distance from Lake Lanier, where there are many attractions and events. UNG is military-friendly and is home of the 2015 national championship softball team. The university provides five colleges for students to choose from, including a STEM option.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
3. Emory University
Emory University’s Paralegal Certificate provides the necessary knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the legal system. The program at Emory is Georgia’s longest-running paralegal degree for inspiring students interested in the criminal justice field and one of the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The course load includes studies on legal terminology and procedures, identifying state and federal court systems, and understanding what a binding contract means. The paralegal certificate is for students who have obtained their bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. The certificate program is affordable and requires about 100 classroom hours. All courses are taught by licensed attorneys.
Emory University is in Atlanta, the state’s Capital. The school provides a wide range of other continuing education degrees and certifications. They offer flexible scheduling and payment plans for working students. The certificates offered include technology, professional, and personal enrichment.
Program: Paralegal Certificate
4. Clayton State University
Clayton State University offers a paralegal program for students with several options to pursue toward graduation. One is the BS in Legal Studies, including a paralegal certificate. Each provides skills in thinking critically, conceptional, and analytical. All programs are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) and are accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The legal and paralegal studies at Clayton State University are also affordable to most students with multiple starting times for classes.
Clayton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Founded in 1969, the school provides over thirty undergraduate programs and several graduate degrees. The school is also known for its small student-to-faculty ratio. The CSU college is home to the Lakers, due to the six lakes that surround the campus.
Program: BS in Legal Studies
5. Central Georgia Technical College
Central Georgia Technical College has an associate of applied science in Paralegal Studies that helps students develop an academic, technical, and professional knowledge of the legal and judicial system field. The paralegal program touches on legal research and writing, criminal and family law, and an introduction to law and ethics. Real estate and property law will also be discussed in the course curriculum. CGTC offers several certifications and degree options to students at an affordable cost; however, there are some options for scholarships. The college also provides a convenient school schedule. In state tuition is available to those who have resided in Georgia for the past twelve months.
CGTC is home to one of the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The college provides a wide range of programs; this includes nursing, orthopedic technology, computer programming, and accounting. The college got its start in the Fall of 2012 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Program: AAS in Paralegal
6. Savannah Technical College
Savannah Technical College’s Paralegal Studies Associate Degree offers students with knowledge and skills that will prepare them for the world of the legal system. Courses in the curriculum will provide students with family law matters, legal correspondence, and research of state and federal regulations. The program is offered on both campuses; the Liberty campus and the Savannah campus. The Paralegal Studies program is an eighteen-credit course program with flexible scheduling for the working student.
Savannah Technical College is a public, two-year school that provides both online and on-campus courses; in addition, it is one of the top accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The programs at STC come in a variety of specializations. There are programs in Aerospace, cyber technology, early education, nursing, and criminal law and justice. Dual enrollment is available for high school students as well. The college also has a low student-to-faculty ratio. The college is very affordable for in-state, out-of-state, and international students.
Program: AAT in Paralegal Studies
7. Athens Technical College
The AAS in Paralegal Studies at Athens Technical College offers students technical and critical thinking skills that prepare them for the paralegal community. In today’s world, paralegals do tasks that even lawyers are performing. Students will learn preparation for closings, hearings, court trials, and corporate meetings. Paralegals work on investigating facts on cases related to trials and the criminal action of clients. The AAS program at Athens Technical college also is one of the most affordable and accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The college has a low student-to-faculty ratio as well.
Athens Technical College provides to students a variety of degree programs; this includes courses in automotive repair, culinary arts, early childhood education, nursing, social work, and fire science. The history of the college dates to the 1940s, when the growing need of vocational and training schools was in the most demand. The school offers both traditional and distance learning education.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
8. Valdosta State University
Valdosta State University’s BA in Legal Assistant Studies prepares students in the foundations of the American legal system, comprehends ethical issues and dilemmas, and gives students a choice to choose flexible course subjects. As part of the Department of Political Science, the paralegal program will include a capstone course and an internship that better prepares the paralegal student upon graduation. The school offers several programs of interest and is one of the most affordable colleges in Georgia.
Valdosta State University has one of the most beautiful school campuses in the state of Georgia. For over 100 years the school has put their focus on creating successful students. The University has also one the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The school offers small classroom settings and strives for academic excellence for all students. The college has students from all fifty states; however, eighty-nine percent are born or raised Georgians.
Program: BA in Legal Assistant Studies
9. Augusta Technical College
The Augusta Technical College’s degree in Paralegal Studies offers students with the skills and knowledge of working among the legal system in America. Courses in the program will prepare students in legal research and writing, civil litigation, family and real estate law, and criminal law procedures. The degree is one of the best-accredited paralegal programs in Georgia. The programs at the college are also very affordable to the working adult. The eighteen-course program is just one of the many degree options at Augusta Technical College.
Augusta Technical College, founded in 1961, provides students with programs in Cyber Technology, Arts and Sciences, Nursing and Applied Health Sciences, and Business and Public Services. The school offers a low student-to-faculty ratio. The school is diverse; however, most students are primarily of Caucasian or African descent. The College enrolls both the young and older generation as academic students; with more than half being part-time status.
Program: AAS in Paralegal
10. Southern Crescent Technical College
The paralegal program at Southern Crescent Technical College is an associate of applied science degree. Courses include Introduction to Law and Ethics, Criminal law and procedures, Constitutional law, Administrative law, and Advanced legal research and writing. The program is a sixty-nine-credit degree with five terms. Students will learn family law matters, ethical obligations, and understanding of federal and state regulations.
The college is in the heart of the Capital, Atlanta. The core values that the school upholds are academic excellence, student success, and Integrity. The Southern Crescent Technical College provides over 200 degrees or certifications for working adult. There are five campuses that offer the programs as well. Though some courses are in a classroom setting, several degree options are available online.
Program: AAS in Paralegal Studies
Why are ABA-Approved Paralegal Programs Important?
Paralegal programs in most schools or colleges are ABA-approved and students can find programs at both the associate’s and bachelor’s degree levels. One reason why the ABA-approved programs are offered is that it better prepare the student for the workplace in the criminal justice field. Most paralegal programs within the state hold an accreditation with the ACCSC as well.
To learn more about professional paralegal certificate programs, students can contact the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the American Bar Association (ABA), or the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS). Each association helps in advancing the paralegal in professional development and offers networking opportunities for career growth. Membership dues may vary, depending on if the member is still a student or has graduated with their paralegal certification already. Some do provide a discount for those who are actively serving in the military.
Some paralegals work on case-specific information, such as criminal law, personal injury, employee benefits, and bankruptcy. The weekly caseload can vary, depending on the employer. For example, in small firms, the paralegal may have several tasks or duties to complete throughout the day; going from writing or organizing documents to drafting reports to be filed in court. However, in larger firms, the paralegal may work on a specific portion of a case or one aspect of the litigation process. The difference between the two is small firms tend to be more personal, working with only one client at a time. Many clients and lawyers are on a first-name basis. In large firms, there may be more competition. However, there is a higher chance for growth in the corporation.
The Paralegal Degree
The paralegal program at most colleges or universities offers either the certificate, associate, or bachelor’s level of degree. With the certification and the associate degree, the student will learn the basic background of paralegal studies or criminal law. However, the bachelor’s degree provides more in-depth learning and core courses that many employers prefer. Most paralegal programs are now accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Courses in the paralegal program may include Introduction to Law and Ethics, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, Civil Litigation, Tort Law, Legal Research and Legal Writing, and Paralegal Internship.
Depending on the degree level, the paralegal program can take up two years to complete. Most college programs in paralegal studies are between five and eight weeks long. The paralegal associate degree is sixty to seventy credits in length and the bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies is usually 120 credits. Some colleges that do offer a master’s degree program in legal studies. Paralegals may find this option worth applying their knowledge and education for higher pay.
How Much Do Paralegals Make in Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, the average pay for paralegals is $50,940 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Receiving a certification or degree in paralegal studies will increase the chance of a higher pay scale and provide a paralegal with more opportunities for promotions. Graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal law or paralegal studies can possibly make $80,000 annually. The careers with the highest salaries in paralegal experience are of course, lawyers and judicial professionals. However, claims adjusters, appraisers and criminal investigators can earn $65,670 per year.
Job positions include, but not limited to: Corporate Paralegal, Litigation Paralegal, Discovery Paralegal, Legal Analyst, Legal Support Specialist, Legal Assistant, and Litigation Clerk. Other possible positions in the paralegal field are Mediators, Arbitrators, and Criminal Investigators.
Job postings of current paralegal positions that are available in Georgia can be found on social media employment sites, such as Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com, and LinkedIn. The sites offer information of a company’s background, ratings, reviews and salary offered. Sometimes benefits and work culture is provided for applicants to get a better picture of the company or business history.