A Paralegal refers to a person who provides certain types of legal services.

Additional Sources

Of, relating to, or being a person with specialized training who assists an attorney.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

A person who is not a lawyer or is not acting in that capacity but who provides a limited number of legal services.

Encyclopedia Britannica

A paralegal is an individual who serves as a legal assistant to one or more attorneys during the provision of legal services. Dictionary

n. a non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiring some knowledge of the law and procedures and who is employed by a law office or works free-lance as an independent for various lawyers. Usually paralegals have taken a prescribed series of courses in law and legal processes, which is much less demanding than those required for a licensed attorney. Paralegals are increasingly popular, often handling much of the paperwork in probates of estates, divorce actions, bankruptcies, investigations, analyzing depositions, preparing and answering interrogatories and procedural motions and other specialized jobs. Clients should be sure that the hourly rate charged for paralegals is much less than that for the attorneys.

Of, relating to, or being a paraprofessional who assists a lawyer.


Paralegal is a term used in most jurisdictions to describe a non-lawyer who assists lawyers in their legal work. This is true in the United States and many other countries. However, in Ontario, Canada, paralegals are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada, giving paralegals an independent status in this jurisdiction.

Paralegals are not the same in every country. In the United States, they are not authorized by the government or other agency to offer legal services in the same way, nor are they officers of the court, nor are they usually subject to government-/court-sanctioned rules of conduct. In Ontario, Canada, paralegals are licensed and regulated the same way that lawyers are. A paralegal license allows for the paralegal to provide permitted legal services to the public and appear before certain lower level courts and administrative tribunals.

In the United States, paralegals originated as assistants to lawyers at a time when only lawyers offered legal services. In those jurisdictions, such as the United States, where the local legal profession/judiciary is involved in paralegal recognition/accreditation, the profession of paralegal still basically refers to those people working under the direct supervision of a lawyer. In other jurisdictions however, such as the United Kingdom, the lack of local legal profession/judiciary oversight means that the definition of paralegal encompasses non-lawyers doing legal work, regardless of who they do it for. Although most jurisdictions recognize paralegals to a greater or lesser extent, there is no international consistency as to definition, job-role, status, terms and conditions of employment, training, regulation or anything else and so each jurisdiction must be looked at individually.