There is a difference between a Legal Assistant and a Paralegal. The difference in the two positions is the amount of education obtained. However the actual job duties are getting blurrier and blurrier every day.
A Paralegal usually has obtained their position by obtaining a BACHELORS degree from a traditional university/college.
A Legal Assistant usually has obtained their position by experience.
Both positions have to work under the supervision of an attorney (in the USA), or they can be prosecuted for "Unauthorized Practice of Law". However, both Paralegals and Legal Assistants work more independently than a Legal Secretary - they also do drafting of documents and lots more research. They also may have to cover secretarial duties sometimes, though.
Legal Secretaries usually just do exactly what their attorney/bosses have directed them to do: (type from rough drafts, dictation, transcription, answer telephones, file, calendar, handle mail, make coffee, water plants, pick up the laundry, etc.)
None of these positions are allowed to: solicit business for their lawyer or firm, represent clients in Court, prepare contracts, and/or discuss clients in public (including friends and/or family).
The ATTORNEY takes final responsibility for preparation of documents from their office.
Choosing a career is one of life's most important decisions.
The legal profession is dramatically changing and is in CRISIS!!! Every year, more and more people graduate from law school, but there are fewer and fewer jobs. Even the largest and most reputable law firms are experiencing unprecedented cutbacks. I don't expect the situation to improve in the coming years.....
Be aware of what you are proposing on getting yourself into. Please do more research first.
Reminder: We are in a World-wide Recession. Consider career paths that have available JOBS.<<<<<
Warning> Jobs in the field of Law are drying up fast!! This is just not a good field to invest time and/or money into. This is a SHRINKING, crumbling, and dying vocational field. Many reasons. We now have computers. So, many people today (mistakenly) think they can do their own legal work, thanks to the Internet. Also, there are a lot of companies out there making very efficient legal software for the field of Law. Today's graduating lawyers tend to be very computer savvy, so they just do the work themselves to save themselves the cost of overhead. Also, the "Public" buys this legal software in order to get legal work done without the cost of an Attorney. Also, we simply already have way too many Legal Professionals - we have an absolute glut!! ("Legal Professionals" includes, but is not limited to: Attorneys/Lawyers, Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc)
Sites like legalzoom.com have taken away work that many small-time attorneys/lawyers would do.
The field of Law has a mystique that actually exceeds reality. The field of Law is an overrated career - mostly by television. There are many myths regarding the field of Law: working as a Lawyer is mentally challenging (Actually, most work as an attorney involves routine paperwork: research, cite checking, drafting documents, and document review. Attorneys need to write down and track every activity they do, all day long [in 6 to 15 minutes increments, depending on the billing system] - a painstaking but necessary task), being an attorney is thrilling, high-powered, and glamorous (remember: television is fiction - the fictional lawyers on TV are ACTORS - the majority of work that an attorney does, does not happen in a courtroom), law students think that because they are good at arguing they will become great attorneys (actually being a great attorney is more in one's ability to mediate between differing sides and bringing them to agreement), as a lawyer I can correct injustices (actually legal decisions are more about reaching compromises than about right vs. wrong), guaranteed financial success (actually when salaries are compared, you also need to account for cost-of living expenses [most large law firms are in large cities - the bigger the city, the more cost-of-living expenses will be], payment of debts accrued while attending law school, and time needed to build a client base. Many large law firms require lawyers to work 60-80 hours per week.).
Cost of law school to be lawyer, approx $150,000+.
Be prepared to take on a LOT of debt, if becoming an attorney is your ultimate goal.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
There are no jobs in this vocational field. My family, coworkers, friends, acqaintances, etc. have been laid off left and right in this vocational field.
>>>>>Regarding being a Paralegal: Employers (usually law firms) in the field of Law today want employees with BACHELORS degrees from traditional colleges/universities. Those "certificates" you see advertised aren't worth the paper they are printed on - they are generally scams. (I found this out the hard way.) Also, the law school's program needs to be accredited by the American Bar Association - if it isn't, you are just wasting your time/money.
Even if you finish law school, you won't be able to find a job when you are done. Since this vocational field is shrinking, many new attorneys/lawyers are, themselves, having to work "down" as Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Legal Secretaries, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, etc, etc, to simply try to keep some of their bills paid <<this would be your competition. And the competition is fierce!!
Now... the law schools know this, but they won't tell you the truth >that the job market/economy is just SATURATED with way too many Legal Professionals. Instead the schools will feed you a fairytale and will LIE to you. The root of the problem is we have too many law schools. We are in a recession, and the schools are fighting for their own survival - they will tell students anything to get to the students' money. (Which is why they won't tell you the truth about the job market for the field of Law.) And these schools continue to recruit and churn out even more graduates.............Remember: law schools are BUSINESSES - their top concern is making money for themselves.
>>>>>I cannot warn you about this enough!!>>>You especially have to beware of the bogus, inflated law school salary/job stats given out by law schools!!!*****<<<<<
If you don't believe me, then just do a SEARCH here on Yahoo Answers to see what other posters are saying about the current status of the field of Law. Call some local law firms - ask to speak to the Manager of Human Resources - ask them if they are hiring; ask them what they think about job availability in the field of Law..................
In the book "So You Want to be a Lawyer?" by Marianne Calabrese and Susanne Calabrese (ISBN 0-88391-136-1): "The United States has more lawyers than any other country in the world. About 38,000 students graduate >each year< from the 200+ law schools in the United States. The competition is very keen for jobs and clients." - Even Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (who served on the U.s. Supreme Court for more than 20 years) says there are too many lawyers. (9/14/2008)
Check out these websites: http://informeddecisionmaking.blogspot.c...
(A link to a website does not constitute endorsement.)
If you want a job when you are done with your studies, consider and look into the fields of: >>>Healthcare, Information Technology, Law ENFORCEMENT, environmentalism, emergency planning, accounting, education, entertainment, utilities, home-car-commercial-industrial repairs, vice industries, clergy, and/or debt collection! I spoke to a career counselor from Jobs and Family Services, and HE told me that these areas are where the jobs are, and future job opportunities/availability! and scholarships!
(This is based on my current knowledge, information, belief, and life experiences. This was intended as personal opinion, and not intended to be used as legal advice. Please be careful and do your research.)
You still need to go to the local JAG office and talk to Legal Assistance folks. Ask them what 'military friendly' local lawyers are available and around. There are many, ex-JAG attorney's who practice near bases and others who are familiar with military laws. Your the first service member in your area who needed a lawyer. We normally give out reference info.
FYI: We can't represent you in a court because we can't accept payment on work or get the settlements nor spend all the time with you vs. the hundreds of others cases out there. The military doesn't want to get involved with certain aspects of civil lawsuits since each State (or country) has different laws and we are an US Federal government organization. Just be patience, bring in all your paperwork and quote the facts without all the drama.
The SCRA isn't hard to use depending on your situation.
Here is some basic info straight from the Army's JAG site:
The SCRA is a FEDERAL law. Remind any landlord of that if your dealing with a military clause issue and you can't get out of a contract. But also remember you need to be deploying for at least 90 days or more for you and your spouse to be covered. I am not sure what you issues is, but whatever it is, start with your legal folks vs. the 'barracks' or 'housing' lawyers.