The legal market is hotter than ever in a post-Covid-19 world. People are taking control of their careers, and paralegals are no different. Do not be afraid to think outside of the box and define what your future as a paralegal looks like. It is time to dust off your resume and establish your online presence. The Atlanta job market is ripe with opportunities for paralegals to look for growth and new challenges.
These amazing insights will help you have the edge over other job seekers in the Atlanta area.
1. The Field Is Growing
The number of lawyers in Georgia has increased by 14.8% from 2011 to 2021. The American Bar Association states that this implies a strong growth rate and implies there will be plenty of job opportunities in the near future. As more attorneys work in the Atlanta area, the demand for paralegals will also increase.
While other industries have sinking job opportunities, the legal field is doing the opposite. Growth began in 2021 and will continue through 2022. One reason for this is the growing commercial real estate market. As more businesses develop and move into the area, the demand for legal services also grows. As more lawyers are needed, more paralegals are also required to support them.
2. Remote Work Is Becoming the Norm
There was a time when the concept of work from home was considered taboo. Lawyers and paralegals needed to be physically in the office to perform their duties. The pandemic showed everyone that this is no longer the case. Technology is advanced enough to make remote work possible for everyone. While some firms have implemented return to work programs, others have flexible schedule offerings, and some have decided to embrace the remote working lifestyle. These policies give paralegals options when deciding how and where they want to work.
3. Atlanta Is Home to Large Corporations
Beyond law firms, there are several major corporations that call Atlanta home. These companies have moved their legal needs in-house, which represents plenty of opportunities for paralegals. About 16 of the Fortune 500 companies and 14 of the Fortune 1,000 companies call Atlanta home. These large companies offer a unique opportunity to work in the legal field but for another industry. The positions also come with several benefits that you may not get when working for a small law firm. If you are interested in working for a company instead of a firm, consider applying for a position at one of these companies:
- Coca Cola
- Delta Airlines
- Home Depot
- Southern Company
- SunTrust Bank
- United Parcel Service (UPS)
There is also a securities exchange and an Intercontinental Exchange located in Atlanta. This presented even more opportunities for paralegals interested in the financial areas of law.
4. Several Factors Go Into Salary Calculation
Not all legal professionals make similar or comparable salaries. Two paralegals performing the same duties at similar law firms could have very different salaries. This is because the firm’s size is just one of many factors that go into determining a paralegal’s compensation. When looking for a new career opportunity, it is important to know these factors. It will help you narrow down your search for viable open positions.
Where the firm is located will have an impact on salary. This goes beyond just being in Atlanta, GA. Firms in the middle of the metropolitan area tend to have higher pay rates than those outside of the city. Conversely, the more rural the firm, the more likely the salary will drop. Consider this when deciding where you want to commute to for work. A firm on the outskirts may be an easier commute, but you will sacrifice potential earnings.
Skill and Experience
As with any career, your skillset and experience will influence your salary. No matter how brilliant you are, a first-year paralegal will not make the same salary as someone who has been in the field for a decade or longer. If you want to increase your earning potential, you need to expand your skills set and obtain more experience. Consider taking a nationally recognized core competency test to establish your skills credibility. Look for part-time freelance work that can expand your experience beyond your full-time role. This is useful if you are looking to move from one area of law to another.
Size of the Law Firm
As we mentioned earlier, the law firm’s size has an impact on the salary offerings. A solo practitioner may not be able to offer the same rate as a large firm employing hundreds of attorneys and paralegals. This should be a consideration when weighing the pros and cons of working for a small or large firm. Corporations may or may not offer higher salaries. The advantage large corporations present is further career growth. You can stay with a single large corporation for longer and continue to grow within yourself as a paralegal. This could be moving from an entry-level position to a senior level one or even a management role overseeing a team of paralegals.
Graduating from a more prestigious program will garner you more respect and, thus, more earning power. Not all schools have the same program quality, so be sure to attend one that adequately prepares you for becoming a paralegal. You want to attend a school with a strong reputation in the Atlanta legal community. This will help you negotiate a higher salary rate. Then once you secure a position, it is important to maintain your education. You are not done learning. Attend continuing education courses to ensure you are up to date on the law and best practices.
There are no official minimum requirements or statewide certification programs to become a paralegal in Georgia. Because of this, there is no set track to becoming a paralegal in Georgia. One highly recommended action is to become certified through one of these nationally recognized associations.
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. (AAPI)
- National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS)
You can also refer to the American Bar Association for a list of approved paralegal programs. These programs offer comprehensive training in everything someone would need to know to be a successful paralegal. While some firms and companies are willing to offer on-site training, the majority prefer candidates to come with formal training.
5. Some Fields Earn More Than Others
If you want the opportunity to earn as much as possible, then it is best to focus your efforts on securing a paralegal position with a top-earning attorney. Lawyers that work in the medical field, intellectual property, trials, tax, and corporations have the highest salaries. The elevated salaries for attorneys also translate to increase salaries for the paralegals that support them. Even if making the most money possible is not your primary motivator, if one of these areas interests you, it does not hurt to focus your applications on these types of attorneys.
6. Reputation Matters
Despite Atlanta being a growing metropolis of the south, the legal community is quite tight-knit. This means that reputation is everything when moving among the different circles within the legal community. As a paralegal, your reputation is everything when looking for a new position. This can seem like an intimidating prospect, but you can use it to your advantage. Maintaining a strong work ethic and high-quality work product production ensures you establish a reputation for quality. Networking is also crucial for establishing the connections necessary to secure your desired position.
7. Recruiters Are Looking Beyond Atlanta
While many law firms and companies focus their recruiting efforts on local talent, not everyone takes this approach. Many companies and firms are interested in recruiting top talent from across the country. With the pleasant climate, growing city, and affordable cost of living, there are many desirable attributes that attract paralegals to the Atlanta area. If you live outside of the city or even the state, you should still consider applying for a position.
8. Staffing Services Can Give You an Edge
While thousands of open positions are listed online, these can present a significant challenge. You are one of potentially hundreds of candidates applying for a single position. It can be difficult to stand out when you are reduced to a digital resume. One way to stand out is to work with a recruiter or staffing agency. These people develop personal relationships with firms and companies looking to hire paralegals. They will submit your resume on your behalf, giving you an inside track. This increases your odds of securing an interview.
Master the Atlanta Job Market
With an understanding of these valuable insights, you are ready to enter the Atlanta job market for paralegals. Understanding the current state of the market and its future growth, you can better prepare yourself for a future as a paralegal. Working with a staffing company can help you narrow down your search to open positions that fit your needs and criteria.
Our skilled team of staffing professionals can help you find the perfect paralegal position to help you move forward in your career.
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