There are probably as many definitions of the paralegal profession as
there are attorneys, corporations, government agencies, and other entities
that employ them. Perhaps this is a testament to their value
and versatility. However, legal organizations and associations
have established concise definitions to help clarify and standardize the
paralegal profession and the paralegal's role.
According to the
National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.
And according to the
American Bar Association
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.
And finally according to the
California Business and Professions Code, section 6450:
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 and who
performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a
lawyer is responsible.
As is evident from the above definitions, education is an important, if not
the most important, component determining the qualifications of a paralegal.
Our Paralegal Program has designed its degrees and its curricula
to ensure its graduates not only meet, but exceed, the educational
requirements necessary for a successful and rewarding paralegal career.
'Paralegal' means a person who holds himself or herself out to be a
paralegal, who is qualified by education, training, or work experience,
and who either contracts with or is employed by an attorney, law firm,
corporation, governmental agency, or other entity, and who performs
substantial legal work under the direction and supervision of an active
member of the State Bar of California . . . that has been specifically
delegated by the attorney to
him or her. . ."