• No international definition; each jurisdiction has their own definition

Within Canada

  • Considered to be officers of the court
  • Capable of obtaining a license
  • At higher levels, able to represent clients in small cases
  • Can provide legal services to the public
  • Long and demanding work schedules
  • Increased responsibility and stress
  • Greater amount of prestige

Within The U.S.A.

  • Essentially lawyers’ assistants
  • Unable to offer legal services to the public
  • Cannot appear in any level of court
  • Unable to procure a license
  • Less responsibility
  • Smaller, potentially less challenging workloads
  • Seen as “legal clerks”; lack of prestige

Differences Between Paralegals and Lawyers

  • Paralegals are limited in varieties of work; usually primarily paperwork
  • In most jurisdictions, paralegals are unable to represent clients
  • Possible to become a paralegal within a few months
  • Less extensive training and education
  • Paralegal training focuses on practical application
  • Lawyer training is more holistic, includes theory
  • Requires only related bachelor’s degree and completion of certified paralegal program
  • Expected to carry out and perform tasks as a result of lawyers’ decisions, analyses, and considerations
  • Unable to advance to higher positions within a single firm; must move to larger (corporate or governmental) firms
  • Paralegals have a lower salary with a similar workload relative to lawyers
  • Less respect and prestige than that commanded by a lawyer
  • Less competition to become a paralegal


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