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The Difference | Legal Assistant Vs Paralegal

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Using our experience as employers of a diverse TEAM we know what we like to see in our recruits, so we are extending this service for our client community.

In legal firms, both paralegals and legal assistant are non-qualified jobs, and the terms are often used interchangeably. Both legal professionals perform similar duties, but they often have very different roles. Court rules do not differentiate between both and even the bar association is rarely distinguished when setting rules for practice. However, legal assistants and paralegal assistants are not to be confused with legal secretaries, who have a distinct set of duties. Let’s look at the distinction between a paralegal and a legal assistant.

#Duties Assigned

A legal assistant handles the more routine office management that a law firm or team needs. They are hired by the law firms to assist the lawyer or attorney with their admin to carry out administrative duties for lawyers. Although everything sounds legal, it doesn’t really involve any legal work. Researching, transcribing interviews, filing court forms, and keeping track of the diary is just a few of the things they are doing daily. They frequently attend court and help with the routine court functions.

Paralegals have a more important role to play in the legal set-up than legal assistants. They too are involved in assisting the lawyers, but their duties are more focused and have a legal angle attached. Drafting case notes, writing cases, claims, and analysis for attorneys to submit to clients are among the main responsibilities of paralegals. Paralegals are required to interview witnesses and draft documents in simple language for the clients to understand.


Paralegal: An undergraduate degree is a minimum qualification required to be eligible for the Paralegal job. The degree doesn’t have to be necessarily a law degree but if it is then it’s added advantage. Individuals who want to succeed even more and make themselves more attractive to law firms should obtain the postgraduate paralegal diploma.

Legal Assistant: Legal assistant positions are often available with a wide range of credentials. There are positions available for both school leavers and those with more experience. A-C grade in GCSE English is needed to qualify for a legal secretary’s job. However, a college degree or diploma in Law or IT will be considered advantageous for candidates trying to land this job. Individuals interested in working as legal secretaries can profit from the CILEx Legal Secretary training course, which provides practical training and procedures in administrative, computing, and secretarial skills needed to represent law firms in a business environment.

#Experience Required

Paralegal: A Paralegal role requires a little experience of working in a legal firm or a legal environment. Three to five years of experience as a regular paralegal is required. Before becoming a paralegal, a competent applicant could have served as a legal assistant in a broader capacity.

Legal Assistant: A little less experience is needed for this position. A legal assistant position may be suitable for a high school graduate, has a bachelor’s degree is not normally necessary.

#Skills Needed

Both paralegal and legal assistant positions include general soft skills such as communication, coordination, and computer literacy.

Legal Assistant

IT Literacy: To handle documents such as wills and court dates, you’ll need some basic programming skills.

Organisation: Meetings and agreements for witnesses and clients would need to be scheduled.

Time management: On a regular basis, you can assist attorneys in managing their schedules.

Interpersonal: You would most likely be the law firm’s first point of contact for correspondence with clients.


Research skills: You will be asked to conduct in-depth research and write content.

Business acumen: To be able to counsel and assist attorneys, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the legal system as well as commercial knowledge.

Teamwork: You’ll need to communicate with other paralegals and attorneys in the firm’s other divisions.

#Career Prospects

Paralegal: A paralegal position is often a stepping stone on the road to a legal profession. Being a paralegal before becoming a trainee has a significant benefit because applicants would be able to put their current legal experience to use when working as a paralegal.

Legal Secretary: Legal secretaries have a lot of work opportunities these days. Individuals may also use the legal secretary role as a steppingstone to a paralegal profession.

Though both the roles are meant to keep a check on their legal knowledge and experience and hold a special value in the industry for their specialization.


Want more information on how you can go about finding the right candidate for your company? Shergroup has a stringent process to screen the candidates and add them to the database after they have been interviewed and verified as reliable resources to put forward for our clients. Our recruitment process assures you a complete background check of the candidate along with the other credentials and qualifications you’re looking for. Reach us and let Shergroup find the candidate that fits well within your process. Write to us at [email protected] to discuss in detail your requirements.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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