Paralegal vs. Legal Administrator

Are you thinking about a career in law? Do you want to be the next Atticus Finch, Rudy Baylor, Martin Vail, or Elle Woods? Not sure which path you should pursue?

Portrait of hispanic paralegal businesswoman with a file standing in meeting room with colleagues disucssing in background

At Sprott Shaw College, you can start your training to become a Paralegal or Legal Administrator across different industries. Below, we’ll be going over both occupations to help you decide and determine which career path is right for you and your aspirations.

What Is a Paralegal and What Do They Do?

Paralegals are important members of the legal team who work directly with lawyers and other professionals to support them in their cases.  In their role, Paralegals hold a number of responsibilities including keyboarding, transcribing, researching, and more.

Often times, Paralegals specialize in particular niches like real estate law, criminal law, litigation, family law, Aboriginal land title, Canadian immigration law, intellectual property law, and much more.

Across the industry, Paralegals can be found working in law firms, record search companies, legal departments in the private and public sectors, or may even be self-employed. 

What Responsibilities Do Paralegals Have?

Paralegals are tasked with a diversity of responsibilities. Some of these include:

  • Interviewing clients, witnesses, and other related parties
  • Assembling documentary evidence
  • Preparing trial briefs and arranging for trials
  • Preparing wills, real estate transactions, and other legal documents
  • Researching records, court files, and other legal documents
  • Drafting legal correspondence and performing general office and clerical duties

How Do I Become a Paralegal?

Employers in the law industry look for candidates who have the experience and knowledge to do well in the field. One way to gain said experience and knowledge is by taking a paralegal college diploma program.

At Sprott Shaw, we have a 72-week long Paralegal program that awards students who complete the program with a diploma. This program also includes two practicum placements so you can build the experience and knowledge you need to familiarize yourself with the industry before even graduating.

What Is a Legal Administrator and What Do They Do?

As the name suggests, Legal Administrators work on a more general and administrative scope, compared to Paralegals. However, this doesn’t deem their work any less important. Legal Administrators are still important members of the legal team and need to have an understanding of the vocabulary and processes of the law as they will need to handle and format a variety of legal correspondence documents.

With their understanding of the industry, Legal Administrators need to proofread and cover outgoing documents and correspondence from law firms to make sure that they agree and are cohesive with legal procedures and proceedings. In some cases, Legal Administrators may attend law courts or meetings with lawyers and other members of the law team to take notes or minutes on their behalf.

paralegal woman looking at laptop

Legal Administrators often work at law offices or the legal departments of larger organizations.

What Responsibilities Do Legal Administrators Have?

Legal Administrators fulfill more administrative duties like:

  • Preparing and keying in correspondence and legal documents like deeds, wills, affidavits, and briefs
  • Reviewing and proofreading legal documents to ensure compliance
  • Scheduling appointments, meetings, and conferences
  • Setting up and maintaining filing systems
  • Opening and distributing incoming mail and other materials
  • Coordinating the flow of information internally and with other departments or organizations

How Do I Become a Legal Administrator?

Much like Paralegals, employers hiring in the field are looking for Legal Administrators who have previous experience and knowledge in the field, and this is best gained through a diploma program.

Sprott Shaw has a Legal Administrator program where you can gain the skills and experience you need to succeed. We have a variety of different Legal Administrator program options suited to your needs, including an Executive Legal Administrator program which includes additional training in business, human resources, marketing, and more, and a Legal Administrator with Practicum program so you can gain relevant and hands-on work experience before graduation.

The Similarities Between a Paralegal and a Legal Administrator

While we’ve covered the main differences between Paralegals and Legal Administrators, we haven’t yet covered their similarities. Both Paralegals and Legal Administrators are considered to be high opportunity occupations, which means that the two jobs are expected to see higher demand and salary compared to other occupations in the field. To learn more about high opportunity occupations, click here.

So, the question still remains – should you pursue a career as a Paralegal or Legal Administrator? Well, the answer to this question rests on whether you want to fulfill more general and administrative duties, or whether you want to specialize a little bit more and work directly with lawyers.

To learn more about the programs or connect with one of our advisors, click the button below.

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