Paralegal Vs Lawyer : What’s the Difference?

A job in the legal sector can be very fulfilling. It could take some time to choose the ideal position or location within the legal industry. What separates a paralegal from a lawyer may be on your mind if you’re trying to decide between pursuing a career in one or the other.

The “correct” decision will rely on your abilities, career and personal goals, and circumstance, therefore you must take many different variables into account.

The following guide will discuss some of the parallels and differences between a job as a paralegal and a career as a lawyer to aid in your decision-making process. Continue reading to find out more about the differences in responsibilities, educational requirements, and potential pay ranges between the two positions.

Difference Between a Lawyer and a Paralegal

At its most simple level, a paralegal differs from a lawyer in that a paralegal is suitably trained to practise in the legal profession; whereas a lawyer is licenced to practise law.

Lawyers who have passed the bar exam can now practise law on their own or with the help of a paralegal or a legal assistant. Paralegals are only allowed to carry out tasks that have been delegated to them by a lawyer.

This is because, the lawyer providing the assignment, not the paralegal, retains responsibility for the acts of the paralegal and the results of the task.

Historically, the concepts of paralegal vs legal assistant have been used interchangeably. A certificate for each specialisation was introduced by the National Association of Legal Assistants four years into the twenty-first century. So, now, there is a distinction between a paralegal and a legal assistant, with the duties of a legal assistant more in line with that of a typical legal secretary.

Some professional paralegals find that after working in the legal field for a while, they have a newfound desire to pursue a career as a lawyer. The journey from paralegal to lawyer is a sort of natural evolution, but it takes careful planning. As a general rule, paralegals benefit greatly from legal education programmes and their existing employers.

How Are the Duties of a Paralegal and a Lawyer Different From One Another?

It is crucial to emphasise that there are many differences in the duties played by paralegals and attorneys based on the practice area, amount of expertise, and type of law firm. But we may contrast the fundamental obligations and responsibilities of paralegals and attorneys.

Because paralegals handle legal matters on behalf of a supervising attorney, it can be challenging to distinguish between their duties and those of lawyers. Additionally, a paralegal’s duties are quite similar to those of a lawyer (this is the key benefit of hiring a paralegal).

Paralegal Vs Lawyer : What's the Difference?

For instance, paralegals frequently handle the following duties on their supervising attorney’s behalf:

  • Keeping clients informed of the status of their cases and managing client communication
  • Arranging and going through client files.
  • Researching legal and factual matters.
  • Creating legal papers, including pleadings, discovery notices, and documents for transactions.
  • Preparing a case.
  • Organizing documents and creating legal documents.
  • Interviewing witnesses and clients.

While attorneys are permitted to perform any of the aforementioned jobs, they also have additional duties that paralegals are not permitted to perform, such as:

  • Giving legal counsel to clients.
  • The decision to accept or reject client cases.
  • Advocating for clients in court.
  • Determining their legal fees.

In addition, numerous ethical obligations come with practising law, including those that apply while working with paralegals.

What Are the Pay Differences Between a Paralegal and a Lawyer?

Earning potential is a significant advantage that lawyers have over paralegals. The pay scales for attorneys and paralegals depend on a variety of variables, including practice area, firm size, level of experience, and geographic region. However, overall, lawyers earn substantially more money than paralegals. We can make general comparisons using national averages while keeping these issues in mind.

The median salary for paralegals and legal assistants in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is $52,920. Although there are differences between the roles, it should be noted that the BLS here combines paralegals and legal assistants. The median compensation for lawyers according to the BLS in 2020 was $126,930, which is more than twice the median wage for paralegals and legal assistants.

What Are the Job Prospects for a Paralegal Vs. a Lawyer?

Are you curious about the differences in job possibilities between a paralegal and a lawyer? The BLS reports that job outlooks for both paralegal and attorney professions are improving, making a career in the legal sector a wise choice.

However, the employment outlook for paralegals and legal assistants appears to be slightly better than that for lawyers, which is projected at 9% (or as fast as average) for the same 10-year future period.

Paralegal Vs Lawyer : What's the Difference?

The employment outlook for paralegals and legal assistants is expected to grow at a rate of 12% between 2020 and 2030 (which is faster than average). The BLS claims that the increased job prospects for paralegals are due to law firm’s efforts to become more streamlined and effective.

At a reduced cost, paralegals can help lawyers with legal work while also enhancing efficiency and innovation within law companies. It makes it natural that demand for paralegals will rise in the upcoming years.


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