Difference between Paralegal and Legal Assistants

by Darren Smith Legal Adviser

After graduation, Legal Studies is a field that many people want to pursue. It doesn’t matter if you have been to a law school or not but there are positions in law firms other than lawyer that one can apply to without getting a degree of law. Paralegal and Legal Assistants are the most common positions other than lawyers that are hired by the law firms. If you want to be a paralegal or legal assistant, you don’t need a law degree. They might sound like similar jobs but there are many differences between paralegal and legal assistants. Sometimes people refer paralegal assistants as “legal secretaries” or “legal assistants” but they have more legally focused job in the law firms. If you want to know more about them, get in touch with legal staffing firms.


One of the main differences between paralegal and legal assistants is education. A paralegal assistant requires at least a college degree.  On the other hand, a legal assistant can be hired after school. Many schools offer a course in paralegal studies that is a four year degree course. These courses help a person to understand the legal basics.

Type of clients

Another reason that differentiates paralegals from legal assistants is there client contact. Legal assistant’s job is to perform administrative tasks for their attorney or the law firm they are working for. For example, meeting schedules, collecting information from the clients, taking messages from the clients or maintaining precise trial records and billing the client are some of the main tasks that a legal assistant performs. Legal assistant’s duties are limited. Paralegal assistants perform substantive legal work under the guidance of an attorney. They cannot advice people on legal matters or guide them but they can help in drafting a loan document, a lease or other legal documents. These documents must be reviewed and signed by an attorney only.

Case preparation

When a lawyer takes a case civil or criminal, paralegal and legal assistants not only provide administrative support but they also help in preparing the case. An attorney would have to perform all administrative and other duties personally if he would not hire the paralegal and legal assistants. A legal assistant helps in organising documents and files that are essential for the case and also scheduling meetings for the attorney as well as for the paralegal assistant. A paralegal assistant’s job is more of a research based work. He will interview the potential witness and will prepare case summaries and documents and will help in preparing arguments and statements that will be given in the courtroom. When the time comes paralegal and legal assistants play important role in providing administrative support in preparing a case.


Paralegal assistants earn more as compared to the legal assistants because of the educational qualification and kind of work that is done. Paralegal and legal assistants get their set salaries from the firm.

In conclusion, paralegal and legal assistants are the most common positions in a law firm apart from the Litigation Associate job in Calgary. They may seem like similar but are different in many aspects. 

About Darren Smith Innovator   Legal Adviser

31 connections, 1 recommendations, 91 honor points.
Joined APSense since, July 7th, 2017, From Toronto, Canada.

Created on Sep 12th 2017 08:45. Viewed 302 times.


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