Many people still believe that the role of a paralegal is simply to act as an assistant to lawyers and attorneys. While there’s no denying that it’s part of their job description, they do more than just file paperwork and get coffee for their superiors.
In fact, many are now seeing just how respectable this often forgotten profession really is. It takes more than just knowledge and skills to succeed as a paralegal, after all.
Legal Assistant vs. Paralegal
The term legal assistant and paralegal are often used interchangeably, but there are very important differences between the two. Legal assistants generally do administrative work that most paralegals do as well. The difference is that the former is often relegated to just administrative work, while the latter does considerably more.
Paralegals have to research cases and even interview the people involved, and this is why most online schools with paralegal courses have additional programs to help prepare students for real-life scenarios. Paralegals may also perform management duties, often overseeing fellow paralegals or legal assistants.
Finally, while paralegals do more legal duties than their administrative counterparts, they can’t exactly represent a person or give out legal advice. They can, however, offer assistance during court proceedings.
Why Choose the Paralegal Profession?
The future of the aspiring paralegal is actually very optimistic, and their opportunities don’t just strictly revolve within the legal field. Many companies and businesses are now hiring more paralegals over lawyers, mostly due to their lower cost. They generally have the same legal competencies, too. They aren’t exactly replacing their higher counterparts, but they do have an easier time getting jobs these days.
The paralegal profession is also ideal for students who don’t have that much freedom to study law in its entirety. It’s no secret that studying in law school is very difficult, and it may be difficult for students to juggle studying law and their other responsibilities.
The stereotype that paralegals are simply lawyers’ assistants are slowly fading, and many are now seeing how important their responsibilities are in both the legal field and other industries. If studying to become a lawyer isn’t exactly your cup of tea yet, consider becoming a paralegal.