Are you curious about a career as a Paralegal or Legal Assistant in the United States of America? Now you can learn what Paralegals and Legal Assistants do, the work environment, how to become one, salary, and job outlook.
What are Paralegals and Legal Assistants?
A Paralegal is a person who assists attorneys with the organization and preparation of their legal papers. The term Paralegal is often used interchangeably with Legal Assistant, which means that there is no difference between the two roles and responsibilities. Paralegals work for large law firms or they are self-employed. Paralegals are legal professionals who specialize in the practice of law and assist lawyers. They perform many tasks that fall under the practice of law such as document review, litigation support, and assisting in depositions.
Legal assistants perform paralegal tasks, such as preparing documents, and also assist lawyers with research and administrative tasks. Legal assistants and paralegals perform many tasks. For example, they may collect client records, file documents, prepare court documents, assist with litigation, and manage legal budgets.
As with most other legal professions, paralegals and legal assistants work in a team environment. Paralegals and legal assistants are usually employed by large law firms. In a large firm setting, paralegals and legal assistants may work alongside or with other paralegals, legal secretaries, administrative staff, and law clerks. Smaller law firms can employ either one or two paralegals. A paralegal or legal assistant does not have to be employed by a large law firm, however.
Legal Assistants perform many of the same duties as a Paralegal but may also assist attorneys with more administrative functions of the law firm. The types of law offices in which Legal Assistants typically work include real estate, family law, probate law, bankruptcy, collections, and personal injury. Legal Assistants typically perform tasks that are outside the legal practice of law. For example, they may review documents related to a real estate transaction, file motions in a probate case, or collect overdue bills for a personal injury claim.
Paralegals perform some of the same tasks as a Legal Assistant. They may prepare court filings, such as pleadings, deposition exhibits, and motions. However, Paralegals are trained to perform more specific tasks than Legal Assistants. Paralegals must complete special training courses and pass a certification exam before they can become paralegals. Paralegals must pass an examination and take additional courses to obtain the appropriate licenses to practice law in different states.
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