While dealing with legal matters people often come up with this query of taking their concern to a Paralegal or to an Attorney. They both are personnel of law and in many jurisdictions have overlapping responsibilities. But at the same time, they serve their purpose and have their specific tasks and responsibilities. This article will give you a clear view of the terms that distinguish between Paralegals and Attorneys.
Let’s get our facts straight by directly looking at the factors:
Paralegal Vs Attorney: Points of Difference
|Paralegal vs Attorney: Basic Definition
|A legal assistant or paralegal by education training and work experience is a person of law. Employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency. Furthermore, they are responsible for performing specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
|An Attorney acts as a representative for people in legal matters. That is, they speak for their clients in civil and criminal litigations.
|Paralegal vs Attorney: Education (In the US)
|Distance learning and/or online paralegal programs (not recommended);
Community and Junior colleges offer 2-year Associates degrees;
Certificate programs offered by business and proprietary schools, ranging from several months to a year in length;
Four-year college and university programs offering degrees in paralegal studies;
Advanced degree programs offering master’s degrees in paralegal studies, legal administration, or legal studies
|It takes 4 years of undergraduate study and 3 years of Law study.
A Graduate degree in English, Economics, History, Public Speaking, Mathematics, or a graduate in any discipline.
ABA-approved law schools take LSAT exam for testing the aptitude of the applicant.
|Paralegal vs Attorney: Work profile
|Day of a paralegal involves preparing legal documents, research work, writing reports, filing and organizing important paperwork.
|They represent their clients in the civil and criminal litigations- Power of Attorney.
|Paralegal vs. Attorney: American Bar Association (ABA) Exam
|Not compulsory to clear the bar council exam. However, graduates who take up ABA-approved paralegal programs get a distinct advantage over non-ABA approved paralegals.
|It is compulsory to clear the bar council exam. In order to maintain the ABA-license, pay a prescribed fee at regular intervals.
|Paralegal vs Attorney: Important Skills/Qualities
|Good oral as well as written communication skills: As paralegals work under attorneys, for clients, and with fellow paralegals. Therefore, it is important to have upright communication skills for having a good equation with them.
Prioritizing work and multi-tasking: work of a paralegal majorly involves preparing documents, memos, filing and communicating the work to attorneys and clients. This makes prioritizing task an important aspect of their work schedule.
Researching: a paralegal is a master of performing secondary research (internet research) and has investigation skills for finding out information.
Updated with Modern Technology: an efficient paralegal is well-versed with modern technology and software. Modern filing system involves using spreadsheets, e-filing, presentation software(s), etc.
Team worker: a paralegal is an efficient team-worker who balances working with people who are more experienced (Attorneys, opposing lawyers,) than him/her.
|Communication skills: attorneys are great orators (speakers) as well as listeners which helps them convincing the Judge/ Jury in the courtroom.
Analytical skills: the analytical skill of absorbing and sorting the information put forth by the clients and opposition. At the same time, the attorney has to manage the information and come up to a reasonable conclusion.
Research skills: an attorney has an investigative mind in order to perform in-depth primary as well as secondary research.
Accurate judgment: attorneys have a great sense of judgment while dealing with their clients and the opposition. They have a strong ability to look for weakness and strengths of arguments.
Works in Solitude: An attorney spends time in solitude, thinks outside the box and comes up with creative solutions for solving problems faced in civil and criminal litigation.
Abbreviations in the table:
ABA- American Bar Association; LSAT- Law School Admission Test.
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