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A paralegal is a qualified person employed by a lawyer, law office, corporation, or agency and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work. To be certified as a paralegal, a person must complete the voluntary certification process by developing a specific level of competency. 

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), paralegals perform legal work that would otherwise be done by attorneys. For example, paralegals can conduct legal research, prepare documents for legal transactions, draft discovery notices, interview clients, and assist attorneys in other ways.

However, paralegals are not licensed to practice law or give legal advice. For instance, paralegals cannot represent clients in court, take depositions, or sign pleadings.

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]