The Best Paralegal Schools in Atlanta, GA in 2021
Getting through law school to become a lawyer is a notoriously lengthy and expensive process, not to mention academically competitive. For those interested in working in the legal profession without going through six or seven years of expensive schooling there is an alternative though; becoming a paralegal.
A paralegal is a legal professional who aids attorneys practicing in every area of the law - from criminal work to real estate law, non-profit law to civil rights law and everything in between. It is a fascinating, if sometimes challenging career that an increasing number of Atlanta, Georgia residents are being drawn to.
Becoming a paralegal also makes fiscal sense, and, just as importantly, offers the kind of career opportunities and growth most people are looking for.
Featured Paralegal Programs in Atlanta
Salary and Job Outlook in Atlanta
The average salary for a paralegal in Atlanta in 2020 was, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $54,440 per annum. That figures rises as high as $80.822 for the highest earners in the field and even a brand-new paralegal can command, on average, a salary of $32,390 in their first year of work. And with employment for paralegals projected to grow 10% between 2019 and 2029 then that work should be plentiful.
Requirements for a Paralegal in Georgia
There is no legal education requirement to work as a paralegal in Georgia - as there is to work as a lawyer - but most employers require at least a certain amount of formal education in the form of paralegal programs. Many prefer to hire those with a minimum of an Associate degree in Paralegal Studies.
Paralegal Schools in Atlanta, GA
Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies
Diploma in Paralegal Studies
Gwinnett College is a career focused private college offering students of all ages a campus-based education and a variety of both career certificate and Associates Degree programs. The school offers both a Career Diploma and an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies to those interested in this challenging but rewarding career.
The Associates Degree Program is the starting point for those who do not hold a college degree but have graduated from high school or hold a GED. It is a two year, full-time on campus program in the Marietta Campus that encompasses all the following aspects of working as a paralegal:
In addition to legal studies students must complete general education courses, including courses in English, Math, and computer science. Those who already hold a degree can opt to take the Career Diploma course instead, which runs for 18 months and covers the same legal subjects but does not come along with a general education requirement and is considered a graduate program.
Both programs are eligible for traditional federal financial aid, with the cost being charged on a per credit basis. Credit cost is dependent on a student's personal circumstances and residency, which is why the school recommends scheduling a personal meeting with an Admissions Counselor to determine yours.
Clayton State University
Paralegal Studies Certificate (Post-Grad)
Associates in Paralegal Studies
Clayton State University is a junior state university that offers a wide variety of career diploma and associate degree programs, including offerings for those interested in becoming a paralegal.
Clayton State University offers two programs of study to paralegal students. Their Paralegal Studies Certificate (18 credit hours) is designed for those who already have an AAS or BA degree, although that degree does not have to be in a law related field, and their Associates in Paralegal Studies (60 credit hours) is geared towards those students who have graduated from high school but have never been in a college environment before.
Both courses offer extensive coverage of all the knowledge needed to begin working as a paralegal in a variety of law office situations. There is a focus on general law in both programs so that students obtain knowledge that will give them the widest range of career options upon graduation.
As a traditional state university Clayton charges tuition on a per-credit basis, the cost of which is decided by a review of each student's personal and residency status. Federal financial aid is available to those students who qualify.
Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
Associate of Science in Legal Assisting/ Paralegal
Herzig University is a private university offering everything from professional certificates to MBA degrees. For those interested in paralegal studies it offers one of the most prestigious paralegal Associates Degrees in the area, as it is one of the few approved by the ABA and the Georgia Bar Association.
Admission is competitive, and students must hold a high school diploma or GED and meet college admission standards. Minimum SAT scores are also required, and a personal interview is also required.
The 65-credit hours program itself can be completed more quickly than some others, in around 18 months (about 1 and a half years) and offers a very comprehensive overview of the knowledge and skills needed to obtain employment as an entry level paralegal. It can be completed on campus or online, one of the few university programs offering a hybrid option for paralegal students. Placement assistance is also provided in some legal fields, especially in corporate law. Note however, the online program is not ABA approved.
Traditional financial aid is available to those who qualify, and tuition is charged on a standard, per credit basis, the cost of which will be determined for each individual student at their pre-admission interview.
Atlanta Technical College
Paralegal Studies AAS
Atlanta Technical College is a not-for-profit school offering a range of Associates Degree programs to students from across the Atlanta Metropolitan area.
Their Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies is a campus-based program open to those over the age of 18 who hold a high school diploma or GED and meet minimum academic standards. It is one of the oldest such programs in the area, having been offered for over 25 years.
Course content is focused on general law, but also places a focus on legal ethics and the completion of a school arranged internship with a local employer. That internship must be completed before the certificate is granted. In all, the program takes 18 - 24 months (about 2 years) to complete.
The estimated cost of the program - which is a 60-credit program - is $12.650 and is assessed on a per-credit basis, with credit cost differing according to a student's situation and where they live in the state.
Paralegal Program Certificate
As it is one of Georgia's most prestigious universities, it is little surprise that the Paralegal Certificate Program offered at Emory University is highly respected. Offered as a course under the school's Continuing Education Department, the Paralegal Certificate Program is open only to those who have already attained a bachelor's degree, although that BA does not need to be in a related subject.
This program, which provides a broad overview of the skills needed to become an entry level paralegal and can be completed in 36 weeks (about 8 and a half months) - 18 months (about 1 and a half years), is a cash only program, and not eligible for financial aid.
Payment plans are available, but half of the balance for each core course must be paid prior to its commencement.
Georgia Center for Continuing Education - University of Georgia
Paralegal Certificate Program
The Paralegal Certificate offered by the University of Georgia's Continuing Education Department offers a 'fast track' to gaining the skills and knowledge required by employers to become an entry level paralegal. It is an 80-hour program conducted over the course of several months and can be completed online or in person.
To be admitted to the program students should be over 18 and high school graduates. There is no BA requirement, but students must meet minimum academic standards. The program can be completed in person, online, or as a hybrid of the two.
This is a cash only program, for which traditional financial aid is not available. The estimated cost of the course is $1,595 + materials. This can be paid in installments, with half of the balance due on enrollment, and the remainder prior to graduation.