What is the Difference Between a Lawyer and a Paralegal?
Updated On March 1, 2023 | by Benjamin Garfield
Lawyers and paralegals help keep our legal system running smoothly. They help people resolve disputes, and they help businesses and individuals understand their legal rights and responsibilities. Lawyers and paralegals also work to ensure that the law is fairly and equitably applied. It’s important to note that paralegals and lawyers both perform legal work, but there is a big difference between the two. Below, you’ll learn all about their distinctions.
Education and Certification
A lawyer is a professional who has earned a law degree and is licensed to practice law. A lawyer is responsible for providing legal advice and representation to their clients in court. They may also be involved in drafting documents and negotiating settlements. For example, human rights lawyer Malliha Wilson got her undergraduate degree in Montreal. Then, she earned her law degree in Toronto before getting licensed and eventually becoming the Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the Government of Ontario. She was required to attend law school before working at a firm. Lawyers can explore different specialties like Malliha Wilson, including corporate law, labor law, and human rights.
On the other hand, a paralegal is a professional who has earned a paralegal degree or certification and is authorized to provide legal assistance to a lawyer. If you’re interested in becoming a paralegal, for example, then you’ll want to get an online bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. You’ll learn foundational courses and adapt new paralegal skills to start working at law offices. You will practice communication skills and general legal studies to assist lawyers. A paralegal is responsible for providing legal support to a lawyer, which may include conducting legal research, preparing legal documents, and assisting with trial proceedings.
A lawyer must pass a state bar exam to be licensed to practice law. A paralegal does not need to pass a bar exam but must be certified by a professional organization such as the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the American Bar Association (ABA).
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Responsibilities and Roles
A lawyer is a professional who has earned a law degree and is licensed to practice law. Lawyers advise clients on legal matters, represent clients in court, and negotiate settlements. Meanwhile, a paralegal is a professional who assists lawyers with legal work. Paralegals may have a law degree, but most do not. They help lawyers prepare for trials, investigate cases, and draft legal documents.
There is a large discrepancy between the salaries of lawyers and paralegals in the United States. Lawyers earn an average of $118,000 per year, while paralegals earn an average of $48,000 per year. There are a number of factors that contribute to this disparity. Lawyers are typically required to have a Juris Doctor degree. Also, lawyers typically have more experience than paralegals, and they have to pass a state bar exam.
Some argue that the discrepancy in salaries is justified, as lawyers are responsible for more complex legal work. However, others argue that paralegals should be paid more, as they are an essential part of the legal profession and do much of the same work as lawyers. The discrepancy in salaries is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, as lawyers are in high demand and the number of jobs for paralegals continues to grow.
A lawyer is a licensed professional who represents clients in court and provides legal advice. Lawyers typically have a four-year degree in law from an accredited law school. They must pass the bar to practice law in their state. A paralegal is a legal professional who assists lawyers with their work. Paralegals typically have an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or certificate in paralegal studies. They may also have experience in the legal field. Paralegals are not licensed but must pass certification. These are the main differences between the two.