Although lawyers assume ultimate responsibility for legal work, they often delegate many of their tasks to paralegals. In fact, paralegals—also called legal assistants—are continuing to assume new responsibilities in legal offices and perform many of the same tasks as lawyers. Nevertheless, they are explicitly prohibited from carrying out duties considered to be within the scope of practice of law, such as setting legal fees, giving legal advice, and presenting cases in court.
Most paralegals and legal assistants have an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, or a bachelor's degree in another field and a certificate in paralegal studies. In some cases, employers hire college graduates with a bachelor’s degree with no legal experience or education and train them on the job.
Paralegals do most of their work in offices and law libraries. Occasionally, they travel to gather information and do other tasks. Most paralegals and legal assistants work full time.