Georgia Paralegal Career Guide
This page is your guide to starting a career as a paralegal or legal assistant. Here you will discover Georgia paralegal salary and job outlooks, career resources, and answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Georgia. Begin your journey to a paralegal career with the easy-to-navigate directory below.
Table of Contents:
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in Georgia
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Georgia
- Additional Paralegal Resources
Though government agencies, corporations, and various businesses all require a degree of paralegal support, the majority of paralegal jobs in Georgia are found in law firms. King & Spalding LLP employs over 800 lawyers nationwide. The international firm has represented many large corporations, such as Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, and operates in virtually every area of law. As a large firm hub, the Atlanta office consistently demands a high level of paralegal support and may provide promising opportunities for paralegals. Alston & Bird LLP, also based in Atlanta, hosts an established paralegal and professional timekeeper program that includes merit bonuses, on-site continuing legal education programs, pro bono service allowances, and tuition reimbursement. The unique benefits at this firm are open to highly motivated paralegals looking for a long-term position at an established law firm.
Recently graduated paralegals may wish to consider working with legal recruiting firms such as Major, Lindsey & Africa LLC, which can provide great opportunities for newly certified paralegals to gain experience in a legal environment. Additionally, large corporations headquartered in Georgia demand a great deal of paralegal support and are ideal employers for business-oriented paralegals seeking a large professional environment. Fortune 500 companies based in Georgia include Home Depot, United Parcel Services, Coca-Cola, and Delta Air Lines.
Job Outlook in Georgia
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in Georgia from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 8,460 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout the state of Georgia.2 Paralegals in Georgia have bright career prospects as the number of Georgia paralegal jobs is projected to grow throughout the next decade at a rate of 18.8%.1 This equates to 1,550 paralegal positions added to the state workforce.1 These statistics compare favorably to national trends as the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 15% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2016 to 2026.3
Over the next few years, the dense concentration of law firms and corporations in the Atlanta area should produce a significant number of new positions for paralegals and legal assistants in a diverse range of professional settings. The surrounding areas also host many smaller established law firms that may provide excellent opportunities for newly certified paralegals to gain workplace experience. Though the densest concentration of paralegal jobs in Georgia is the Atlanta area, paralegals may also find opportunities in larger population centers such as Gainesville and Savannah.
Georgia Paralegal Salary Outlook
As the paralegal profession grows, so will the diversity of allocated responsibilities and the number of positions available, leading to higher demand for qualified paralegals. Higher demand typically translates into higher salaries, especially for paralegal jobs in Georgia that involve specialization. In May 2017, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average paralegal salary in Georgia of $53,130.3 Prospective paralegals may also command more competitive paralegal salary in Georgia through voluntary certification and by specializing in areas of law where employers most need legal assistance. Metro areas can also boost salary expectations; for example, Atlanta-area paralegals earn an annual average salary of $55,090.3
Georgia Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
A quick look at Georgia paralegal salary by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in Georgia
Paralegals and legal assistants in Georgia are recognized as legal “paraprofessionals” or non-lawyer assistants. Under this designation paralegals and legal assistants are permitted to perform certain legal tasks under the direct supervision of an attorney. The state of Georgia has not issued any minimal education or training requirements for paralegal employment. As a result, there is no official route to Georgia paralegal certification.
Though there is no statewide Georgia paralegal certification program, it is highly recommended that prospective paralegals seek voluntary national certification through an association such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI), or the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS). Voluntary certification can increase candidates’ job prospects by adhering to nationally accepted standards. Earning voluntary certification and completing an education at one of the numerous paralegal schools in Georgia can help you build your paralegal career.
Though on-site training is still offered at some legal firms and corporations, nearly all employers prefer candidates with formal training and education in the paralegal field. The American Bar Association has formally approved seven paralegal programs in Georgia, though many more are offered throughout the state. Generally, Georgia paralegal programs provide a comprehensive overview of national and state legal procedures and develop research, technology, and writing skills to prepare students for entry-level positions in the legal field. Associate’s, bachelor’s, and certificate programs are offered throughout the state. Following completion of one of these Georgia paralegal programs, the Georgia Association of Paralegals recommends the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam offered by the NFPA for entry-level paralegals. For more information regarding paralegal education, certification or employment, refer to the Georgia Association of Paralegals and the Southeastern Association of Legal Assistants.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Georgia
As there are no legal requirements for paralegal certification in Georgia, you can take a number of paths to start your career. Most commonly, paralegals start out with a combination of education and experience. Employers may offer additional on-the-job training for advanced paralegal tasks. Paralegals may build their skills prior to employment by attending one of the paralegal programs in Georgia.
Keep in mind that although it is not required, voluntary paralegal certification is a beneficial career move. To see how certification and education are viewed by Georgia employers hiring paralegals, visit our jobs board. You can also find further information about how to become a paralegal, including national certification programs, on the Paralegal411 guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.
Paralegals make a positive difference for their firms and for their firms’ clients, making their role central in day-to-day operations. To be successful, paralegals must have the right resources at the right time. The resources below can help you build your paralegal career and become more competitive in your search for Georgia paralegal jobs.
Georgia Paralegal Career Books
Georgia Legal Malpractice Law – Legal ethics is the cornerstone of practice for reputable attorneys – and paralegals as well. In addition to discussing issues of ethics in legal practice, this guide also provides tips for effectively preventing legal malpractice claims and avoiding unnecessary losses.
Contracts, Commercial Law, and Business Organizations for Georgia Paralegals – With the dense concentration of corporate firms in the state, this book is an invaluable reference for career paralegals. Paralegals at all stages in their careers can use this reference to check common and Georgia law on contracts and commercial transactions. Included are case summaries and relevant examples of legal interpretations.
Fundamentals of Georgia Real Estate Law – Real estate paralegals will find particular value in this overview of real estate law in Georgia written by Mara Mooney, a paralegal studies professor at Clayton State University, one of the most recognized paralegal schools in Georgia. Covered in the text are real estate terms and explanations of concepts within the framework of Georgia-specific law.
Georgia Real Estate Finance and Foreclosure Law with Forms – This specialized text for professionals working in the legal aspects of real estate covers all aspects of real estate finance, from valuation to sales and tax liens. Particularly useful are the adaptable letters and forms included in this volume, which cover a variety of legal communications commonly used by real estate attorneys and paralegals.
Library of Georgia Personal Injury Law Forms – This collection of over 300 forms and documents for use in personal injury law practice is an excellent guide for paralegals responsible for drafting communications. Updated following the new Georgia Evidence Code, this book also serves as a reference with tips for practice, filing, and notification of interested parties. Included is a CD-ROM with electronic versions of the documents presented in the text.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Laws, Rules, and Regulations Annotated – In addition to compiling Georgia statute on worker’s compensation, this reference provides case notes and authoritative annotations from attorney-editors. As it is published in e-book format, links to Lexis Advance are included for ease of further research. This provides paralegals doing research on cases connected to worker’s compensation with a handy head start.
Georgia Criminal and Traffic Law Manual – Updated annually, this compendium of criminal law and procedure covers both the basics of the law and related statutes. In an easy to search and annotate e-book format, paralegals will find this a great reference for quickly locating relevant case law at the federal and state levels.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for Georgia
The Georgia Association of Paralegals provides a jobs board specific to paralegals and legal assistants that includes jobs from across the state and is open to the public. The Attorney General of Georgia continuously recruits for paralegals and legal administrative assistants through its government jobs board. For a more focused job search, paralegal jobs in Atlanta are posted on the Atlanta Bar Association’s jobs board.
Georgia Court Info
GACourts.gov – The Judicial Council of Georgia / Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) provides court rules, forms, and case search functions for all classes of courts located within the state. Also included are links to certification and licensing for different court functions, useful for paralegals who may be responsible for keeping personnel credentials up to date.
GeorgiaSuperiorCourts.org – As a court of general jurisdiction, the Superior Courts of Georgia handle civil and criminal law actions across the state, making it likely that paralegals will have interactions with this court system throughout their careers. The website provides information on local courts as well as news of note stemming from court cases and rules changes.
Law Libraries in Georgia
University of Georgia Law Library – Officially known as the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, this collection houses over 500,000 volumes. The collection is open to the public during published hours, although checkout privileges for those not affiliated with the university are restricted to attorneys.
Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library – Part of the Emory University School of Law, this library holds over 300,000 volumes as well as hundreds of thousands of microform and electronic items. Paralegals working for members of the Atlanta Bar Association or who have contacted the library for arrangements are permitted to access the collections, though access to select electronic databases may be restricted.
Paralegal Associations in Georgia
Atlanta Paralegal Association – The Atlanta Paralegal Association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALS). In addition to regular meetings, the association hosts lunch-and-learn seminars, continuing education events, and other networking opportunities for its membership. Annual dues are $90 for active members, $75 for associate members, and $25 for students.
Gate City Bar Association – Paralegal Section – Based in Atlanta, the Gate City Bar Association Paralegal Section aims to promote fellowship in the legal community, legal ethics, and professionalism. The section holds quarterly meetings for its general membership as well as periodic socials and awards luncheons.
Georgia Association of Paralegals – The Georgia Association of Paralegals has been serving Georgia paralegals across the state for over 35 years. This association emphasizes professional networking at both the organizational and personal levels and encourages all legal professionals to contribute pro bono service to the community. Member dues are on an annual basis at $125 for regular members, $125 for associate members, and $100 for student members.
Southeastern Association of Legal Assistants – The Southeastern Association of Legal Assistants (SEALA) serves legal support professionals across southeast Georgia. Benefits of membership include legal education workshops, guest speakers, professional support groups, and other career-oriented events held throughout the year. Membership fees are $75 for active members, $50 for associate members, and $25 for student members.
1. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Georgia: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/