The paralegal definition is essentially a professional utilized to offer economical legal services for the public.
Attorneys are very expensive.
They undertake specialized training and they're licensed.
Unfortunately, most people cannot afford to pay attorneys' fees. That's where the paralegals or legal assistants as they're also called come in.
What Is A Paralegal?
According to the American Bar Association (ABA) a paralegal is a professionalqualified through education,training and work experience to perform substantive legal work.
They work with attorneys to provide economical, quality legal services making legal services more readily available to the general public.
The paralegal definition offered by major organizations include:
The Paralegal Society of Ontario: wherein a paralegal is an individual qualified through education or experience licensed to provide legal services to the general public in areas authorized by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The United Kingdom's National Association of Licensed Paralegals: wherein a person who is educated and trained to perform legal tasks but who is not a qualified solicitor or barrister.
The American Bar Association: where 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 who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
Under this definition, the legal responsibility for a paralegal's work rests directly and solely upon the lawyer.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) [USA]: A Paralegal is a person, qualified through education, training or work experience to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. This person may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work. Substantive shall mean work requiring recognition, evaluation, organization, analysis, and communication of relevant facts and legal concepts.
From the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) [USA]: wherein legal assistants, also known as paralegals, are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training and experience, legal assistants have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system and substantive and procedural law which qualify them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.
In 2001, NALA adopted the ABA's definition of a paralegal or legal assistant as an addition to its definition.
The American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE): states paralegals perform substantive and procedural legal work as authorized by law, which work, in the absence of the paralegal, would be performed by an attorney. Paralegals have knowledge of the law gained through education, or education and work experience, which qualifies them to perform legal work. Paralegals adhere to recognized ethical standards and rules of professional responsibility.
The United Kingdom's Institute of Paralegals: states a paralegal is a non-lawyer who does legal work that previously would have been done by a lawyer, or if done by a lawyer, would be charged for.
The International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA) 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 who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible." Under this definition, the legal responsibility for a paralegal's work rests directly and solely upon the lawyer.