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Old 11-06-2008, 04:06 PM
 
Location: The O.C.--Soon, ATL
670 posts, read 2,037,037 times
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Are there any attorneys or paralegals on this site that can tell me if the paralegal certificate program offered through Emory University's extended education division is very well regarded? It's a 6 month program that requires a B.A. to participate, but it's not ABA approved.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:58 PM
 
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I can't speak from personal knowledge, but a friend who became a paralegal said it it not well regarded. She said that some programs are not recognized out-of-state, and she specifically mentioned Emory.
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Old 11-08-2008, 06:55 PM
 
Location: The O.C.--Soon, ATL
670 posts, read 2,037,037 times
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Thank you for that information. I'm surprised that it isn't an ABA-approved program since their law school has such a good reputation. And most positions specify a paralegal certificate from an ABA-approved program so it would be a factor in another state, and might be a factor in looking for a paralegal job in Georgia, too.
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Old 11-09-2008, 06:17 AM
 
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I know someone who paid the $5 grand to attend Emory's paralegal program. They hype up the program but at the end of the day, once you graduate, all you get is access to a database with job postings and it's up to you to find a job. That's okay but if there is nothing "special" about Emory's program, might as well go to a local college and get the same course for a fraction of the cost. I actually saw the job listings and if you have no previous experience as a paralegal, get ready to start as low as $10-$12 per hour, or if you are really lucky, $30K/year. I thought about trying out paralegal work until I found out how little the starting salaries were.
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:24 AM
 
Location: The O.C.--Soon, ATL
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Thanks for that insight. I do have some legal experience working as a Judicial Assistant in L.A. Superior Court system for nine years, however, not sure how well that will tranfer to a law firm. I might do better trying to transition as a legal secretary. I did almost complete an ABA-approved paralegal program in California (just need two more classes for the certificate). I've looked for court jobs in Georgia, but haven't seen any advertised as of yet. My guess is that the municipal, county, and state governments out there are experiencing financial problems and may have hiring freezes on due to the economy.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:34 AM
 
3,972 posts, read 11,976,480 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shania View Post
Thanks for that insight. I do have some legal experience working as a Judicial Assistant in L.A. Superior Court system for nine years, however, not sure how well that will tranfer to a law firm. I might do better trying to transition as a legal secretary. I did almost complete an ABA-approved paralegal program in California (just need two more classes for the certificate). I've looked for court jobs in Georgia, but haven't seen any advertised as of yet. My guess is that the municipal, county, and state governments out there are experiencing financial problems and may have hiring freezes on due to the economy.
Yes-- and even law firms are hurting. Additionally, fewer people are voluntarily leaving positions right now so job openings are far fewer than they might be in a stronger economy.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, California
52 posts, read 164,332 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYLATINQT View Post
I know someone who paid the $5 grand to attend Emory's paralegal program. They hype up the program but at the end of the day, once you graduate, all you get is access to a database with job postings and it's up to you to find a job. That's okay but if there is nothing "special" about Emory's program, might as well go to a local college and get the same course for a fraction of the cost. I actually saw the job listings and if you have no previous experience as a paralegal, get ready to start as low as $10-$12 per hour, or if you are really lucky, $30K/year. I thought about trying out paralegal work until I found out how little the starting salaries were.
In certain states (not sure about GA because I don't live there yet ) you are required to meet certain requirements by law, so every person can't just walk in off the street and become a paralegal.

I'm a paralegal looking at Atlanta jobs and it seems that the starting salary in GA for someone with no experience is comproble to other states, so if you look at it that way, if you live in GA and are starting at the same rate as someone in CA, than you're really not so bad off.

That said, paralegals can quickly make more than that. My first paralegal job started around that mark and in a few years I made significantly more than that. Also, diffrent areas of law pay differently. Family law, chances are you aren't looking at a lot no matter your level of experience. Litigation can pay well, so can Patent Law, Commercial Law, etc. I know paralegals who make more than associates (meaning well over 6-figures)!

But, I would not pay for an expensive paralegal program, especially if it's not ABA-Approved. I would opt to take classes at your local college or junior college. It's just not worth the debt.

My suggestion would be to enroll in classes somewhere so that you can have a certificate, and then get a part-time job at a law firm as a file clerk or something, so that you get hands-on experience. Also, if the firm knows you're getting your certificate, they may have a position for you when you complete your requirements. Many of the case assistants at my firm have moved up to becoming paralegals this way.

HTH
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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Given the number of paralegals who have no experience in law and only a BA, I think you should be fine applying straight up. Economy permitting, of course.
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Old 11-11-2008, 09:19 PM
 
Location: Bay Area, California
52 posts, read 164,332 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unstable View Post
Given the number of paralegals who have no experience in law and only a BA, I think you should be fine applying straight up. Economy permitting, of course.
Not to be argumentative, but I am very surprised that's the case in GA because it's not at all here. I think, at the least, a person should know how the legal process works, i.e. how a case starts, who the parties are, etc. but then here there is an actual code that has certain requirements about what a paralegal is and what a paralegal does.

Some type of schooling is helpful, so that you know exactly what the job is. It's not being a secretary, or just filing stuff. My first assignments as a paralegal were to draft discovery responses (with only a sample of answers for another case) and subpoena records. Now, I'm not saying those two things are rocket science but if you don't even have any idea what discovery is... you see where I'm going with this right? The less time you have to spend figuring out what something is the more time you can spend figuring out how to do it because even taking classes doesn't prepare you for the real world.

There are many people who can come into the job with no knowledge and learn it, but knowing some background is helpful. The more you know before, the less catch up you have to do, and then you can really learn the stuff that makes the job more fun.

Just my two cents for what they're worth.
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Old 11-12-2008, 01:05 AM
 
Location: The O.C.--Soon, ATL
670 posts, read 2,037,037 times
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Thanks to all for their opinions on this. While I obviously am very familiar with the legal process, both criminal law and civil litigation, having worked in the courtroom for the last 9 years, I'm also aware that I haven't been the one preparing the documents, just reviewing and filing them. I'm looking into UCLA's six month program, which also requires a B.A., but is ABA-approved. Then, coming to Georgia, I would need to obviously become familiar with Georgia Civil Procedure, either by just studying it, or taking a class.

The problem with taking the paralegal courses at a local college is that usually they are 2 year programs, the closest one to ATL I've found that's ABA-approved is in Athens, and I assume I'd have to pay out-of-state tuition. I also don't want to tie up 2 more years of my life at this point, especially when I can get the certificate within six months in California.

As far as starting at entry level, I can handle that, just as long as I can make enough to pay rent and basic expenses. Just want to make sure I can find a job before I leave the one I have.
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