Legal Assistant Training Programs

Supreme Court of United States

Legal assistants, also known as paralegals, perform several administrative and office duties within the legal profession and are indispensable team members of a law office. They prepare legal documents, wills, contracts, briefs, pleas, statements, appeals, and more. They prepare affidavits, help arbitrate disputes, deliver subpoenas, and perform general office administrative duties.

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What’s the difference between a legal assistant and a paralegal?

This is a common questions for those who are not accustomed to the culture within the legal profession and it is sometimes not an easy one to answer. For many years, the terms legal assistant and paralegal were virtually interchangeable; however, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations recently voted to officially remove the interchangeable use of the title legal assistant to also mean paralegal. The reason for this vote stems from the fact that legal secretaries have also been utilizing the term legal assistant interchangeably although the legal assistant job description is quite different. This presents a problem in the legal community because a paralegal has significantly more education, training, and skill than a legal secretary. This has lead to a wide spread confusion about the skill and legal competence of the individuals. While the interchangeability of the term will continue to be a problem for years to come, the official national associations have begun to make the distinction.

Legal Assistant Education & Degrees

Legal Assistants, like paralegals must complete a formal certificate, associates, or bachelors degree in order to get a job in most law offices. You will take courses in legal history, documentation standards, legal processes, and general computer software used in legal settings. The most common degree pursued is the bachelor’s degree and if you have already completed a bachelors degree in another major, you may qualify for a shorter supplemental certificate program which will put you on the fast track to becoming a legal assistant or paralegal.