para·​le·​gal ˌper-ə-ˈlē-gəl How to pronounce paralegal (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a paraprofessional who assists a lawyer
paralegal noun

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Much of the work in a law office can be done by paralegal assistants, also called legal aides or simply paralegals, who work alongside licensed lawyers. Often a paralegal is trained in a narrow field and then entrusted with it. In this respect, paralegals are similar to paraprofessionals in other fields, such as engineering. Paraprofessionals used to be trained in the office itself, but today it's common to study for a paraprofessional certificate or degree at a community college or university.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail/Matthew Hatcher via Getty Images The attack killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal and civil rights activist, and injured dozens of others. Scott Macfarlane, CBS News, 20 Feb. 2023 Knight, along with his paralegal Meri Wright, have experienced highs and lows in their pursuit to exonerate Glossip. Brynn Gingras, CNN, 10 Feb. 2023 But some of the backlash to paralegal practitioners certainly has echoes of financial protectionism. Michael Waters, The New Republic, 22 Nov. 2022 One survey found that Washington paralegal practitioners charged a median of $100 per hour. Michael Waters, The New Republic, 22 Nov. 2022 Long had been studying to work in the legal realm and had earned her paralegal credentials before falling in love with ironwork. oregonlive, 21 Aug. 2022 Meanwhile, prosecutor Bill Oakley is glimpsed in the opening courthouse montage, and the first half of this season brought back Bill’s colleague Suzanne Ericsen, Kim’s former paralegal Viola, and Jimmy’s old Davis & Main nemesis Erin. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 19 July 2022 State House candidate Noelle Kahaian, a paralegal and conservative nonprofit leader, is trailing her opponent by 23 votes. Nicole Carr, ProPublica, 24 June 2022 The legal filing says Johnson called the attorney general’s office three days after Arbery’s death and told a paralegal Barnhill had already accepted the case. Russ Bynum, USA TODAY, 5 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paralegal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1966, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of paralegal was in 1966

Dictionary Entries Near paralegal

Cite this Entry

“Paralegal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Legal Definition


para·​le·​gal ˌpar-ə-ˈlē-gəl How to pronounce paralegal (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a paraprofessional who assists a lawyer compare clerk sense 2b
paralegal noun

More from Merriam-Webster on paralegal

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