What is the Difference between a Traditional Paralegal and a Virtual Paralegal?

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We asked Barbara L. Liss what the difference is between a traditional paralegal and a virtual paralegal? We hope you enjoy her response. Share your own thoughts in the comments below the article.





The answer is that a "traditional paralegal" is the regular employee of a private law firm, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other employer who hired him or her.

The term "virtual paralegal" is the newest iteration/web jargon for an independent contractor or freelance paralegal, who operates his or her own paralegal services business and who contracts on a project basis with law firms, corporations, governmental agencies and other places where lawyers work. Both types of paralegals must be supervised by lawyers and their work must be reviewed and approved by them. Neither may render services directly to the public. Legal Document Assistants/Unlawful Detainer Assistants and forms preparers may provide services to the public, but may not render legal advice.

Several states are exploring alternatives where some non-lawyers may be permitted to provide limited legal advice to the public, such as Washington state's Limited License Legal Technicians (http://www.wsba.org/Licensing-and-Lawyer-Conduct/Limited-Licenses/Legal-Technicians), New York State's Court Navigator program (http://accesstojustice.net/2014/02/11/new-york-chief-judge-lippman-announces-court-navigator-program-in-state-of-judiciary/) and California State Bar's Civil Justice Strategies Task Force, which is presently examining a limited licensing of lay advocates (http://board.calbar.ca.gov/Agenda.aspx?id=10814&t=0&s=false).

Here are some examples of "virtual paralegals":

http://thevirtualparalegal.com/

http://attorneysvirtualparalegal.com/

http://www.atlantaparalegalservices.com/2011/10/are-virtual-paralegals-misunderstood/

-Barbara L. Liss
Santa Barbara Paralegal Association and Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate Paralegal to Christopher C. Jones
www.sbparalegals.org



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