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What is the difference between a paralegal and an attorney?

Excellent question. An attorney is an individual with a juris doctorate degree who, if properly licensed, is authorized to practice law in a particular geographic area or in front of a particular court.  This means that an attorney may represent clients in court, render legal advice, and sign court documents and other legal papers.  A paralegal, on the other hand, is a professional who provides legal services under the supervision of an attorney.  A paralegal is not allowed to represent clients in court, render legal advice, or sign documents or other legal papers. A paralegal typically evaluates cases, conducts client and witness interviews, drafts court pleadings and motions, performs legal research, prepares legal documents, manages and organizes case files, and helps attorneys prepare for trials and hearings.  Even though a paralegal is not permitted to practice law, an attorney relies heavily upon the work performed by a paralegal.  In fact, it is not uncommon for a paralegal to know more about a particular area of law than the attorney.

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