The main difference between legal secretary and paralegal jobs is the level of administrative work. Although the responsibilities and many of the duties in both positions can vary greatly depending on the exact jurisdiction or geographical area, the main difference between the positions is the level of administrative work. A paralegal and a legal secretary are typically responsible for different aspects of legal cases. Paralegals may write the first draft as well as conduct law case research and analysis, whereas legal secretaries typically handle the majority of the administrative tasks, such as typing up final drafts of documents.
These employees are also at various levels of employment. A paralegal is usually directly supervised a lawyer and frequently performs legal work. A paralegal may supervise a legal secretary who only prepares or edits legal documents.
In some cases, a paralegal must have worked as a legal secretary for a year or two before becoming a paralegal. He or she may be required to have a certificate or degree, whereas a secretary may not. A legal secretary is a specialized type of administrative assistant, whereas a paralegal is responsible for some of a lawyer’s lower-level responsibilities. Although paralegals frequently perform some of the same tasks as lawyers, they are always considered non-lawyers, and the scope of legal duties for which they can be assigned is usually limited.
Depending on the size of a law firm, both secretaries and paralegals may interview clients. Good communication skills and the ability to treat clients professionally are also required for these jobs. Up-to-date computer skills are required in both types of legal jobs, and an interest in the law is highly desirable in both.
In larger law firms, one paralegal is often assigned to a group of legal secretaries. The pay for the two jobs is frequently disparate. Paralegals usually earn a lot more money, but they also have a lot more responsibilities.
Paralegals, in comparison to legal secretaries, are expected to work more independently and with more expertise and knowledge of the law. The two positions are sometimes confused due to changing or overlapping responsibilities in some countries or regions, as well as the term “legal assistant” being used incorrectly. Legal assistants are similar to paralegals, but they are not secretaries. Legal administrative assistants are secretaries who specialize in law.