What is the Difference Between Paralegals and Legal Assistants?

Difference Between Paralegals and Legal Assistants: In the field of Law, Legal Assistants and Paralegals are some commonly used terms that most people use interchangeably. Both are professional jobs in the legal division. They usually work in legal firms that are either private or public. Their role is to manage cases for every attorney.


Duties of Paralegals Vs. Legal Assistants

Paralegals or Legal Assistants help in arranging clients, meetings, trials, and hearings in court. They assist the lawyer in every way possible. They help the attorney keep updated about everyday tasks.

The role of a Paralegal or Legal Assistant is essential for an attorney as they cannot go behind every detail. Although paralegals and legal assistants have a difference, it is usually not acknowledged. Also, the law is an enormous field with various professions. It is easy to confuse legal assistants with other people too.


Difference between the Legal Assistants and Paralegals

This article will clear all these common confusion with Legal Assistants and Paralegals.

Who are Paralegals?

A Paralegal works for a lawyer. They collect information if they find a new case. They carry out a detailed research about the case, go through reports, collect client details, and many more such activities. The paralegal assists the lawyer while he/she handles the case in court.

However, paralegals can't attend or handle cases on their own. It is illegal to represent a client in court without a lawyer. They cannot conduct meetings with the client without a lawyer or offer legal advice.

The role of a paralegal is essential because they must take care of every single activity that happens before one hearing. The lawyer might attend several cases at a time. So, the paralegal must be efficient enough to carry out every task. Paralegals work as an intern under renowned lawyers before becoming a professional paralegal. It helps them know about their duties and responsibilities.

Paralegals are not restricted just to the attorney. There are several other options to try out like the banking sector, real estate, trade, insurance firms, and legal organizations. It adds weightage when the paralegal is part of an organization or private firm for the law. It opens several opportunities for paralegals.

Who are Legal assistants?

The duties of legal assistants are very similar to that of a paralegal. They work as assistants under a lawyer to perform various tasks. The role of a legal assistant is to read through client details and analyze them.

On the other hand, they must keep track of the other cases that are handled by the lawyer. They must also bring new and promising new cases to the lawyer. It requires constant touch with people and regular updates. It is essential to handle the cost and fees for every case the lawyer deals with. It is an ethical process that is carried out with proper evidence.

The legal assistant will accompany the lawyer to every place. They will also help in collecting strong evidence for a particular case. The legal assistant collects them and converts them into a readable format for the lawyer to use on the day of the hearing.

In some cases, the legal assistants help in taking care of the evidence until the hearing. They provide facilities and even train the evidence for the hearing. Based on these aspects, it is highly essential to keep ourselves updated. Reading laws, books, publications, papers will be helpful.

If you are an intern as a legal assistant, be attentive. Keep observing details and start working on improving yourself. Understand the relationship with the client.

Paralegal Certification

There are certifications and degree courses to become an established paralegal. It is similar to a legal assistant too. However, in the year 2004, the National Association of Legal Assistants amended the definitions for both the job descriptions. There is a NALA certification exam that is conducted by the authority. If a legal assistant or a paralegal gets this certificate, they can call themselves Certified paralegal.

Otherwise, it is a legal assistant who works for an attorney. Although the job description is the same, getting a NALA certificate adds value to your job. Usually, famous attorneys hire certified paralegals and legal assistants. It is because it is difficult for them to carry out all tasks single-handedly.

A professional paralegal can help manage all these tasks making the case better to understand. It is essential to carry out these duties along with legal documents. They play a key role in defining the responsibilities of a legal assistant or certified paralegal.

Conclusion

Most of the time, an assistant to a lawyer is termed as the paralegal. It is to avoid confusion with other jobs like a secretary. Legal is a commonly used word and can be used to define many things for an attorney. This is why it is optimal to title the job of an assistant as a paralegal. These are the major differences between the legal assistant and paralegal. This article will help you to use the right word according to the context.

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