Paralegals: Legal Assistants to Attorneys and Lawyers

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Paralegal

What is a Paralegal?

Paralegal is a term used to describe people who assist lawyers in their legal work. The profession originated as an assistant or secretary who provided assistance to lawyers with legal matters, research and related matters. Paralegals are not lawyers, but generally do have knowledge, education and even certification in legal matters and law.

Following are some additional facts about the profession:

  • Paralegals are not authorized by the government to offer legal services such as those provide by an attorney or lawyer
  • They are not considered to be officers of the court (i.e. considered a formal part of the legal system)
  • They are not usually subject to government or court-sanctioned rules of conduct
  • They work under the direct supervision of a lawyer

Although most jurisdictions recognize paralegals, there is no international consistency regarding the definition, role, status, terms and conditions of employment, paralegal training, regulation or anything else and so each jurisdiction must be looked at individually.

View other legal and law definitions in our Investigation Glossary.

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