Definition of a Legal Assistant and Paralegal
Job description of a Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Paralegals or Legal Assistants aid lawyers in providing legal services. Paralegals or Legal Assistants are however restricted in certain areas of the law including setting the cost of legal fees, providing advice and litigating in court. Ie. Arguing a case in court.
The ABA or the American Bar Association which was also adopted by the National Association of Legal Assistants officially defines a paralegal or a legal assistant as:
"…a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible." (Adopted by the ABA in 1997)."
Essentially legal assistants or paralegals conduct many of the tasks generally assigned to lawyers but they have clear restrictions in what services they are permitted or not permitted to undertake.
Obtaining a certificate or diploma in paralegal studies or legal assistant can also be a stepping stone for entering law school. A career as a legal assistant will give you insight into the working life of a law firm or a legal environment and can be an advantage as a law student or in your application to obtain entry to a law school.