Difference Between Law Clerk and Paralegal

Law Clerk vs Paralegal

Law clerk and paralegal are terms that are used for a category of people serving in the legal fraternity, especially in the offices of attorneys and lawyers. These are professionals who provide assistance and help to attorneys in the form of doing research work and doing the homework in dealing with the case of a client. However, despite overlap and lots of similarities, the two terms, law clerk and paralegal, are not synonymous and there are many differences that will be highlighted in this article.

Law Clerk

A law clerk is a legal professional who works under the supervision of a lawyer or a judge in a court and helps and assists in research and determination of legal opinions. Law clerks look after legal issues consulting legal books, journals, earlier judgments and articles in legal magazines. While the role of a law clerk when working under the supervision of an attorney is to help and assist him in dealing with the cases of his clients, his role becomes different when he is serving under a judge in a law court. There are many law graduates who take up the opportunity to serve a sitting judge as they can learn a lot as an apprentice. In a law court, a law clerk should not be construed as an administrative clerk. A law clerk is referred to as a judicial assistant in UK. As an assistant to judge, a law clerk is asked to handle much of the work of a judge.


Paralegal is a term that is applied to a category of people who work as aides to attorneys in the legal system. In Ontario, Canada, Paralegals are licensed by the state, and their profession is regulated, giving a legal status to the profession. However, in most other countries, there is no licensing authority for paralegals and they normally work as assistants to attorneys handling their legal requirements while dealing with the cases of their clients. There seems to be no consistency and uniformity in regulating the terms and conditions of employment and training of paralegals around the world. In general though, paralegals carry out legal research at the behest of the supervising attorney. They also execute the orders of the attorney in relation to the cases of their clients.

What is the difference between Law Clerk and Paralegal?

• A law clerk is a legal job that allows an individual to work under the supervision of an attorney in his office or work as an aide and assistant to a sitting judge in a court of law.

• Paralegal is a term used for people working as an assistant to a lawyer though there is no uniformity, and the profession is not a licensed one except in Ontario, Canada.

• Many fresh law graduates consider it an honor to get an opportunity to work as a law clerk under a judge.

• The role and responsibilities change when the law clerk is working in the office of an attorney as he helps in doing homework to help deal with the cases of the clients of the attorney.

• Paralegals cannot give advice to people as lawyers do and they are confined to doing legal research and legal writing such as documentation under the supervision of attorneys.