Paralegal Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Paralegal, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Paralegal?

They are the legal assistants to the actual attornies who assist either the attornies or the party of the lawsuit in matters which requires very limited knowledge of law and procedures related to paperworks and preparatory works for the case. They charge a comparatively lower fees for their jobs which are paid by the attonies clients.

History and Definition of Paralegal

Paralegals have been assisting attorneys in various legal practices for decades. The term "paralegal" wasn't standardized until the 1960s, however, when the American Bar Association officially defined it as: "a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency, or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible."

Paralegals often perform legal research and draft legal documents, including briefs, contracts, and pleadings. They can also assist with trial preparation and other work that is typically reserved for licensed attorneys.

Examples of Paralegal

  1. John wants to file for divorce but cannot afford an attorney. He hires a paralegal to help him fill out the necessary paperwork and gather the required documents.

  2. The immigration law firm hires several paralegals to help with the high volume of applications they receive. The paralegals are responsible for reviewing and organizing the applications before attorneys review them.

  3. In a corporate law firm, paralegals work on M&A deals, preparing closing documents and ensuring that all paperwork is properly filed with the relevant government agencies.

Legal Terms Similar to Paralegal

  1. Legal Assistant - Similar to paralegals, legal assistants provide support for attorneys by drafting documents and performing research, but they do not typically have the same level of training and education as paralegals.

  2. Law Clerk - Law clerks are typically law students or recent law school graduates who provide research and drafting support to judges or law firms.

  3. Legal Secretary - Legal secretaries provide administrative support to attorneys, such as answering phones and scheduling appointments. They often have a working knowledge of legal procedures and terminology.