SEALA: ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
In 1989, in response to a growing need for a paralegal association in this area, a group of legal assistants and students united to form the first paralegal organization in southeast Georgia. The group officially organized and came to be known as the Southeastern Association of Legal Assistants (SEALA).
In 1990, SEALA became an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), a non-profit association which represents over 20,000 paralegals through individual memberships and 85 affiliated state and local associations. SEALA elected to become an affiliate of this national organization because of NALA's leadership in the growth and development of the paralegal profession and emphasis on professionalism and continuing education.
Since its inception, SEALA has been dedicated to the development and recognition of the legal assistant profession in Savannah and the surrounding communities through the promotion of educational opportunities aimed at furthering knowledge and experience levels. SEALA encourages its members to take the CLA exam and offers study groups to those who are interested. To its credit, ten of its thirty-two members have successfully completed the rigorous certification examination.
Meetings are presently held on a monthly basis. The meetings feature speakers and include topics such as court procedures, trial preparation, entertainment law, employment law, ADR, and discovery issues. The educational meetings have been approved by NALA for CLE credits.
Membership includes paralegals in southeastern Georgia. Student membership is available to those currently enrolled in legal assistant programs. SEALA welcomes support from associate members, such as, law firms and court reporting services.
Generally, SEALA members meet on the third Thursday of each month to discuss matters relevant to our organization, upcoming events, etc. Our meeting times are flexible to accommodate the needs of our members but generally are scheduled around the noon hour, or evening.
2. Group Support
3. Community Involvement
4. Public Relations
5. Job Networking
6. Information Source
SEALA is committed to the goal of professional excellence through education, training and experience. We offer our members continuing legal education through seminars, workshops, and guest speakers who regularly lecture about issues relevant to our profession at our meetings.
In addition, we provide support to those who wish to expand their credentials by obtaining the Certified Legal Assistant designation. We strongly support this effort by providing our members with a CLA study course to help the individual prepare for this examination.
Aside from an academic support base, we also provide our members with social and emotional support. SEALA has offered a support group which met every six weeks. This was a time for paralegals to gather and discuss matters of concern to them in a social and informal setting. We discussed anything from the best ways to ask for a raise to how to deal with stress in the workplace.
SEALA supports its members by providing a job bank. This is a source by which our organization communicates with prospective employers on the need for legal support staff. It is also a channel by which our members may seek employment opportunities, arrange alternative employment, and, stay attuned to the demands of the paralegal job market.
SEALA recognizes the importance of educating the public and the legal community on the role and preservation of the paralegal profession. We engage ourselves by speaking to paralegal students, and other members of the public about our organization and about the paralegal profession. We address the public through use of paralegal seminars, workshops and other speaking engagements which are conducted by our members. We publish a newsletter, ParaLink, which contains a listing of events to keep our members informed, interesting articles, and other information for the legal assistant today. The newsletter currently has a circulation of 275 copies per issue going out to paralegals, legal assistants, attorneys, judges, court reporting agencies, paralegal educators and students in the Chatham County and surrounding areas.
SEALA takes part in annual civic activities such as the Basket Brigade at Thanksgiving, Christmas Wish, and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Savannah.