Difference between Paralegal and Legal Assistant

A legal degree is often pursued by many individuals in the country. But not all of them become big attorneys or lawyers or even attend law schools. Besides the position of an attorney, studying law offers different other related calibers that include paralegals and legal document assistants. Most of you may think that both of these individuals are similar and offer the same kind of services. But the fact is that both of them are two separate identities with significant dissimilarities. Here we shall be determining all the prominent factors proving them to be different. Take a look.


The two identities differ in terms of their education. Although both of them are educated and have some knowledge of the law, the paralegals usually have a college degree. Many schools and institutes provide paralegal programs and courses that students pursuing law as a career can easily opt for. Usually lasting for three to four years, these degree courses of paralegals teach all kinds of legal basics in detail. Whereas, none of such law courses or programs is required to become legal secretaries or assistants. Simple high school education and only a little know-how about the law are sufficient for this caliber.

Type of Client 

Both identities handle different types of clients, which counts for a major difference between the two. On hiring legal assistance services offered by legal secretaries, a lawyer expects every administrative job to be perfectly executed. These include arranging for meetings with clients, collecting all sort of case-relevant information from them, exchange messages between clients and the lawyer. Paralegals, on the other hand, have a different kind of contact with clients. They can manage all the legal paperwork of the clients, and explain about the particular case. However, they cannot provide legal counseling. 

Preparation of the case

Before a case goes for trials into a courtroom, it needs to be thoroughly prepared, whether it is a legal separation or divorce. Both a paralegal and a legal assistant need to prepare for the case thoroughly and significantly well. But the duties of these two again differ while preparing for a case. A legal assistant organizes paperwork for the case to be reviewed by the lawyer and also sets up a meeting between the lawyer, paralegals, and the client. When it comes to a paralegal, this individual has quite a different work to do. Unlike a legal assistant, he/she researches the case, talks to the potential witnesses, and prepares legal statements related to the case.


Both of these entities get paid differently. A paralegal has a far better knowledge of law than a legal assistant and performs more functions in legal matters than the latter. It is, therefore, a paralegal who is paid a higher salary when compared to a legal assistant.

Unlike a legal document assistant, you can hire a paralegal and save on the high expenses of hiring a lawyer.