Paralegals are one of the most popular majors chosen by college students in Georgia and across the US. As part of the criminal justice field, many paralegals work with lawyers and clients by assisting them in court procedures, mediations, and investigating facts related to case information; this includes researching law regulations. Paralegals are sometimes considered legal assistants in law firms. Most work long hours and require a flexible schedule.
Becoming a Paralegal in Georgia
A certification in paralegal studies is not necessarily required to work in Georgia; however, there are two paralegal exams that can benefit paralegals. One of the exams is the Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE), which is given to new graduates of the paralegal degree. The other exam is the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE), which is provided to paralegals who have prior knowledge and experience working in the field for quite some time.
While Georgia doesn’t officially require any particular education to be a paralegal, many employers or law firms do require that all paralegals or legal assistants earn a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree to be employed. Earning a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies over an associate degree will also increase the graduates’ salary. In some cases, a four-year graduate may earn up to $2000 more than a two-year program. Bachelor’s degrees also can boost your career path for leadership or managerial positions, especially for graduates who desire to attend law school after graduation. It is possible for students to get experience with a law firm before graduating if the student volunteers at a legal aid office or for a pro bono organization.
There are several career options to choose from, such as family law paralegal, criminal paralegal, and corporate paralegal. As paralegals, they work among lawyers and other professionals providing legal assistance and offering services throughout the private and public sectors. College students may find employment in a law firm as an assistant to a lawyer without some studies in law; however, most employers prefer paralegals to receive a certification or an associate degree in criminal justice or paralegal studies for employment.
Job Outlook for Paralegals in Georgia
The career path of paralegals or legal assistants is very competitive in Georgia. Most high-end careers for paralegals are found in large, metroplex cities in the state of Georgia. Atlanta, the state’s capital, is one of the largest cities for paralegals to find work in. The salary of a paralegal is determined by several factors, such as experience, education, employer, and location of the firm. The size of the organization or firm can also play a role in the paralegal’s salary. The average salary for paralegals in the State of Georgia is $50,940, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. However, positions that require a wide range of skills and training may offer higher salaries. For instance, paralegals with strong writing and communication skills will be more successful in the criminal justice field.
Being organized, creative, and able to multitask will also increase your job performance and business portfolio as a successful paralegal. Sometimes employers do expect paralegals to have some computer knowledge or database and technology skills. Paralegal careers are bright and becoming more readily available. Most paralegals will find employment in private sector law offices; however, other areas of job interest are found at insurance offices, government organizations, and corporate legal firms. Showing professionalism in ethics while in the workplace will gain acknowledgment and will boost a graduate’s paralegal career.