The legal services industry employs a variety of professionals, including legal services specialists and paralegals. Though these roles can be quite similar, there are some key distinctions between them. A legal services specialist is typically responsible for providing administrative support to attorneys. This includes tasks such as screening calls and emails, managing calendars, scheduling meetings, and handling other clerical duties that assist attorneys in the day-to-day practice of law. On the other hand, a paralegal provides more substantive research and writing support to attorneys. They conduct factual investigations like collecting evidence, public record searches and document retrievals.
After all, both roles involve working with lawyers on various tasks related to the law, but there are some key differences between them that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at what sets these two positions apart.
Responsibilities of Legal Services Specialists vs Paralegals
Legal services specialists typically provide administrative support to lawyers by helping with office duties such as filing, document management, and database management. They may also draft basic legal documents, conduct research on cases, or help prepare for trial proceedings. However, they do not have the same level of responsibility as paralegals when it comes to researching laws and preparing cases for court. In most states, legal services specialists must be supervised by an attorney at all times in order to perform any legal work.
Paralegals have more responsibility than legal services specialists because they are expected to do more complex work such as researching laws and regulations applicable to specific cases, preparing pleadings for court filings, drafting motions and briefs for attorneys, and interviewing witnesses. Unlike legal services specialists who must always be supervised by an attorney in order to perform any legal work, paralegals can often work independently on certain tasks such as research or document preparation. Additionally, most states require paralegals to obtain certification before they can practice law in their state.
The primary difference between a legal services specialist and a paralegal is the type of work each is responsible for performing; while both roles involve working with lawyers on various tasks related to the law, paralegals are expected to do more complex tasks like researching laws and conducting interviews with witnesses while legal services specialists primarily provide administrative support such as filing documents and managing databases.