Paralegals, also called legal assistants, work closely with attorneys, judges, prosecutors, or public defenders and perform a wide range of professional tasks, such as legal research, writing, interviewing, document preparation, and office management. Paralegals work in law firms, business corporations, and government agencies. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), "A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible."
American Bar Association, 1997. See the
ABA Standing Committee on Legal Assistants (SCOLA) web site for more information. Please note that paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.
Also, State Bar of Georgia Advisory Opinion No. 21, revised, sets forth the following definition:
"For the purposes of this opinion, the terms "legal assistant," "paraprofessional," and "paralegal" are defined as any lay people not admitted to the practice of law in this state who is an employee of or an assistant to, an active member of the State Bar of Georgia or of a partnership or professional corporation comprised of active members of the State Bar of Georgia and who renders services relating to the law to such member, partnership or professional corporation under the direct control, supervision and compensation of a member of the State Bar of Georgia."
Did that help? If not, we’ll go over all of this in the PARA 1101 course. The general tasks which paralegals may and may not perform are listed in Georgia Bar Advisory Opinion No. 21 in conjunction with Advisory Opinion No. 19.
In the state of Georgia, there is no licensing requirement to become a paralegal. Paralegals and all other non-attorneys in Georgia are governed by an "unauthorized practice of law" (UPL) statute (O.C.G.A. sec. 15-9-50, et seq. - accessible from our home page under the heading "Georgia Research," and the topic "GA Bar"), which sanctions people who engage in the practice of law without a license.
In addition, there is no certification requirement for paralegals working in Georgia (though the State Bar of Georgia's Committee on Legal Assistants periodically studies various regulation proposals for possible legislative consideration).
Individual certification is a voluntary process offered by national Paralegal organizations through rigorous examinations. For more information on such organizations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), please visit their web sites which are linked to our Home Page under "Paralegal Organizations." To be a "certified paralegal", you must pass one of the two national exams, either the CLA/CP exam or the PACE exam. If you pass one of these exams, you are authorized to call yourself a "certified paralegal" and you may use the letters "CLA or CP" or "RP" after your name.
There are no formal education requirements to work as a paralegal in the state of Georgia. However, education guidelines have been set up by national Paralegal organizations on the subject. Aside from law course offerings, such organizations place importance on general education requirements offered at the college level.
This is a very subjective question. The answer depends on the attorney you eventually work for and the type of tasks you will be performing. Some of the qualities attorneys look for in a paralegal are:
An ethical, detail-oriented, computer-proficient person who can work in a "team" setting, and who possesses effective organizational, communication (especially writing), and critical thinking skills.
Yes, the programs housed in our Legal Studies Program (B.S.
degree in Legal Studies, A.A.S. in Paralegal Studies, Paralegal
Certificate) are all ABA-approved (except the minor in Legal
Studies, which is not approved by the ABA).
Most PARA coded classes meet at least once during weekday
evenings from 6:30pm-9:15pm, Monday-Thursday. In addition, we offer
several online or hybrid online courses and occasionally offer a
class on Saturdays. We also sometimes offer additional sections of a
class during the afternoon. All general education classes are
offered at a variety of times in the morning, afternoon and evening
hours. Clayton State is on a semester system, with Fall
(August), Spring (January) and Summer (May) sessions.
You should contact the CSU Financial Aid Office (678-466-4185) for all questions pertaining to financial aid.
See the Registrar's Home Page for tuition/fees. For the Clayton State Admissions Office, call (678) 466-4115, or visit its web site on the University Home Page.
In the Legal Studies Program, we recognize that there are many learning styles which deviate from traditional lectures. In addition, attorneys and other employers are demanding that college graduates become computer-savvy in order to effectively compete in the workplace. Our graduates obtain extensive computer training and are exposed to the use of case management and billing software; legal research via the internet, Westlaw, and several word processing languages. In short, they will be ready to walk into a law office or other legal setting with an array of skills.
The Program receives input on curriculum development from an Advisory Board comprised of community leaders, including judges, attorneys, paralegals, supervisors of paralegals, and businesspeople.
Students learn substantive rules of law and gain "real world exposure" to the legal field. In addition, students may complete an internship in a law firm, corporation, or government agency.
The Program places a heavy emphasis on file organization, form preparation, and drafting skills. Students learn how to draft several pleadings, contracts and other legal documents in an interactive classroom environment and then must draft these documents for a grade.
Instructors are attorneys with experience in the discipline that s/he teaches.
American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE)
Georgia Association of Paralegals (GAP)
National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
The Paralegal Studies Program works very closely with CSU’s Office of Career Services on developing job leads. Routinely, we receive job postings from potential employers and post them with the Office of Career Services, which is located in the Student Center. You should visit this office regularly! Counselors are available to review your resume and cover letter and to discuss interviewing strategies and attire.
Furthermore, you can make an appointment with Prof. Antoinette France-Harris (AntoinetteFrance-Harris@clayton.edu), who serves as the department’s advisor in the area. With Prof. Harris, you can brainstorm about your search for paralegal employment and receive additional assistance. Moreover, you will find several resources in her office and in the CSU Library geared exclusively to paralegals on these topics.
Please call the College of Arts & Sciences at (678) 466-4600.