Paralegals and Lawyers: What is the Difference?
The television series Suits is among one of the legal dramas catered by viewers not just in the country but also all over the world. One of its characters, Rachel Zane (played by Meghan Markle) raised the banner of paralegals in a world full of lawyers. If you are planning to pursue a career in the legal department, it is essential to know the difference between these two professions in order to know which you should pursue.
What is a paralegal?
A paralegal is also known as a legal assistant because they help lawyers prepare for their trials and hearings by drafting legal documents, conducting witness interviews, and doing the necessary research and legal legwork.
Some paralegals have college degrees in paralegal studies. Different educational institutions offer paralegal classes both in the classroom and online. Unlike lawyers, paralegals are not required to have a degree in law.
What is a lawyer?
Attorney, counsel, or legal counsel: all these terms refer to a lawyer. They represent and advise people regarding legal matters. Like paralegals, it is integral for lawyers to conduct their own research and be well aware of the cases at hand. However, unlike paralegals, lawyers are the ones who sit in the courtroom and take part in the trial.
Aside from courtroom roles, the biggest difference between a lawyer and a paralegal is the education and experience required. In order to be a lawyer, one should have a degree from one of the American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools, pass state screenings and most importantly pass the bar exam.
What kind of role can you effectively play in the legal field? Starting as a paralegal like Rachel Zane is a common path. So is working your way to be a lawyer like Harvey Specter. Either way, it is important to research and evaluate in order to know which path is the right one for you.