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Difference Between A Lawyer And Paralegal

Difference Between A Lawyer And Paralegal


Are you curious about the difference between a lawyer versus paralegal? There are legal assistants, paralegals, and lawyers (barristers and attorneys.)


The answer to this will depend on where you are located. You might be in Ontario, Alberta, BC, or the USA. 


For example, a paralegal in Ontario can go to court for simple matters. In BC, a paralegal is the same thing as a legal assistant. 


Paralegals have no special “powers or rights” in British Columbia.


If you are looking for a lawyer or paralegal, fill out the form on the side of this page. We have paralegals and lawyers in BC, Alberta, and Ontario.


We also have a legal team (including consultants) in China. They can deal with international legal issues.


What is a paralegal?


In a province or state where paralegals have power, here is the process. The paralegal will normally go to school for a year and get registered.


Paralegals can do anything a lawyer does, minus giving legal advice. They can often go to court for simple matters, like tenancy disputes, or small claims court.


If the state or province does have a paralegal program, the paralegal can’t go to court at all.


Paralegals deal with client communication, drafting legal documents, and they support the lawyer or attorney. 


They can also book hearing and helping with billing.


They support the attorney to make them successful. If a lawyer is in court all day, the paralegal can keep the law office running.


List of What A Paralegal Can Do

List of What A Paralegal Can Do


Below is a short-list of some of the documents a paralegal can draft:


  • Notice of civil claim
  • Response to the civil claim
  • Affidavits
  • Notice to admits
  • Reply to notice to admit
  • Counterclaim
  • Application record (required when filing an application) 
  • Application
  • Reply to an application
  • Demand letters
  • Other legal documents
  • Behind the scenes legal work

List of What A Barrister Or Attorney Can Do


  • Go to court
  • Everything a paralegal can do
  • Providing legal advice
  • Opening a trust account
  • Becoming a judge
  • Licensed to practice law
  • Education and licensing
  • Represent clients

Lawyer versus Paralegal

Lawyer versus Paralegal


We are using the terms lawyers, attorneys, and barrister interchangeably. Lawyers are the Canadian term, an attorney is an American term, and barrister is the British term.


Barristers go to the law school, whereas paralegals do not. Paralegals also do not “article“ (internship) or pass the bar exam.


Most of a paralegal’s knowledge comes from actually working in a law firm. They get a lot of real experience in assisting with countless legal files.


It’s best to have the paralegal doing legal paperwork, and the barrister going to court. Paralegals also spend a lot of time filing things with the court. 


Copying and scanning things (and putting stamps on things) can also be done by a paralegal. It could also be done by a legal assistant.


What Makes A Great Paralegal?


Being a paralegal can be a stressful job. Every single law firm is different. The filing and layout are often very different.


Paralegals need to be able to adapt very fast. They are the reason why the attorney shines. Every bit of work the paralegal does helps the law firm and the client.


The paralegal must be proactive and always push the file forward. If there is an application coming up, you don’t wait until the last minute work on it.


The paralegal also needs to make sure the attorney or barrister is aware there is a deadline coming up. They might then draft the required documents. Further, they will send it to the lawyer for their review. The lawyer should then finish the documents.


Once the lawyer is finished, the paralegal can file it with the courts and send it to the opposing party or counsel.