What is the Difference Between a Paralegal, Legal Secretary, and Legal Assistant?

For those considering a position in the field of law, there are several positions that are found; paralegal, legal secretary, or legal assistant. Many find themselves questioning whether to become a legal secretary vs paralegal or legal assistant. When considering these different positions that are available, it is essential to consider different aspects such as what is a legal secretary, the legal secretary’s salary, the legal assistant job description, legal secretary job description, and legal assistant vs paralegal salaries among others. Below are the differences and similarities in these positions.

What Is A Legal Secretary?

The legal secretary job description often comes with a minimum of education and experience requirements. One of the most entry-level positions in the legal industry. When someone reviews what does a legal secretary does, it is important to understand that this position is responsible for the general secretary duties but with an emphasis on the legal aspect of these duties, which is what qualifies them for the legal secretary salary. There are not as many legal-centric job duties found in the legal secretary job description as found in the legal assistant job description.

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How Much Do Legal Secretaries Make?

A legal secretary’s salary is comparative to that of a paralegal, with the midpoint average around $52,509 according to PayScale. For someone working in this field and more specifically this position, their experience is what drives their salary increase, whether they are located rurally or in a more populated area. While there are not as many requirements in the legal secretary job description for education and certification as the paralegal, there is room for a competitive legal secretary salary when comparing legal secretary vs paralegal.

What Is A Legal Assistant?

Another position that is found in the field of law is the legal assistant. Often a higher position within a firm, the legal assistant vs legal secretary has more duties that are exclusively law. The legal assistant definition refers to exclusive research and assistance provided to the firm on a legal level, comparing the legal assistant job description more closely to that of a paralegal instead of a legal secretary. Legal assistant qualifications refer to national and organizational certifications that are earned based upon training and give these individuals more authority in the firm. Often times traveling and time spent in libraries are a part of the legal assistant job description.

How Much Do Legal Assistants Make?

Legal assistant pay is based upon their earned legal certifications and their experience in the legal field. The skillset is a requirement for a legal assistant. Their average hourly rate is averaged at $14.89 an hour according to PayScale and is similar to the paralegal salary. When determining how much do legal assistants make, many were ranked based upon their legal assistant qualifications and the legal assistant definition. Some of these firms use the same Paralegal job description for the legal assistant definition.

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Are These Positions The Same?

Depending on the law firm and the descriptions provided, some of these titles are used interchangeably. Some require the title such as Paralegal to have advanced education, or experience that is comparative with what does a legal secretary does or the legal assistant qualifications. For some of these firms, the legal assistant vs legal secretary can be as different as the years of experience and lead assistant for the firm. What has been determined is that legal assistant vs paralegal salaries are comparable, especially in the more rural areas where the competition is minimal. If someone wants the salary of a paralegal, comparing legal secretary vs paralegal and how much do legal secretaries make should encourage legal assistant pay at minimum.


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