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Home » Paralegal vs. Lawyer: What’s the Difference?

Paralegal vs. Lawyer: What’s the Difference?

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In the legal industry, you’ll find that there are a number of different professions. Perhaps you’re interested in working in the legal system but you aren’t quite sure which role is best for you. In order to determine what career path to take, you’ll have to learn about the differences between two of the main professions you’ll come across in this field: paralegal and lawyers.

If you’re curious about the legal system or if you’re interested in exploring it as a profession, then this guide will help you navigate the differences in terms of education, duties, and career development. Here’s what you should know about paralegal versus lawyers.

Lawyers spend more time in school

Paralegal vs. Lawyer

Malliha Wilson, a Tamil-Canadian human rights lawyer, has always preached the importance of education to achieve your goals. She served as the assistant deputy attorney general for the Government of Ontario and handled notable cases for human rights law.

In order to become a lawyer like Wilson, one must first get an undergraduate degree, which takes four years. Then, it can take around three years to earn a law degree. Going to law school and passing the bar exam allow one to practice law.

Paralegals can finish their degree within just a few years

Paralegal vs. Lawyer

Paralegals work within the same fields, but their services are a lot more affordable. This is because they can prepare files under a lawyer but cannot practice law themselves. The upside is that it doesn’t take long to become a paralegal.

In fact, paralegal education can be completed in as little as two to four years. You can get a paralegal bachelor degree online and work at a law office alongside lawyers. The two professions have a variety of overlapping duties. A paralegal degree allows you to work in the legal field without having to go to law school.

Both paralegals and lawyers have significant legal knowledge

Either one of these professions can work in the public sector and assist in providing legal services. They both require a lot of knowledge about laws. Paralegals typically do research on cases and help prepare reports for lawyers.

Lawyers can also do these things but typically oversee documents and focus more on practicing law and arguing cases in court. Becoming a lawyer requires a lot more responsibility, which is why it’s considered a prestigious profession.

Their salaries differ drastically

Paralegal vs. Lawyer

Since lawyers have more responsibility and go to school for several more years than a paralegal, they are paid significantly higher salaries. The average lawyer makes around $125,000 a year, and the best-paid lawyers make around $188,000. Meanwhile, the lowest-paid lawyers make around $85,000 annually. A paralegal makes $55,000 a year on average.

The lower end of paralegal makes around $38,000 annually, and the higher end of paralegals makes approximately $63,000 a year. Keep in mind that paralegals can either have an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Those who have bachelor’s degrees typically earn more money. If you’re thinking about going to school to become a paralegal, make sure that the program you’re enrolling in is approved by the American Bar Association.

As you can see, there are some key differences between paralegals and lawyers. Both are respectable professions and do a great deal for public service. It really just depends on how hands-on you’d like to be when it comes to the public sector and whether you’re willing to complete several more years of school.

There’s a significant salary difference between the two, and while there are some overlapping duties, lawyers tend to have more predictable workdays while paralegals might have different workloads depending on where they work.