When It Comes To A Name, It's Not So Simple:
From summons to subpoenas, there are so many terms in the legal profession that it’s not surprising that there are a variety of names for legal support staff. Is there really a difference between a paralegal, legal assistant and a legal secretary, or are they just different names for the same person? It’s not a totally simple yes or no.
Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant
Years ago, there might have been some differences between the two, but these days there really aren’t any differences. In fact, the American Bar Association, the ABA, uses the two terms interchangeably:
A legal assistant or paralegal is 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.
The designation is pretty simple that these two positions can be considered the same. In fact, a paralegal’s hours can be considered billable to a client and hence one of the reasons the ABA changed the definition to reflect both terms.