Half a Lawyer?

June 26, 2014

Seen on Facebook … a teaser for a recent Above the Law article:

half a lawyer??








‘Half a lawyer’????


Someone neglected to look up ‘para’ before writing such an outlandish, inappropriate, and, well, offensive comment.

The prefix ‘para’, from Greek, does not mean ‘half’. It does, however, mean “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” or “ancillary or subsidiary to roles requiring more training, or of a higher status”.

Paralegals work side-by-side with attorneys. We are degreed, certificated and certified, and some of us even have post graduate degrees. The only time the expression ‘half a lawyer’ might apply would be with regard to our salaries.

6 Responses to “Half a Lawyer?”

  1. Mitchell Goldstein

    Paralegals are to lawyers what Nurse Practitioners are to doctors. In many cases, they are more knowledgeable than the lawyers. What they are not is “half a lawyer.” I know a number of paralegals who could beat the lawyer in court if they were licensed lawyers just based on their knowledge, skills, and experience. I also know a number of lawyers who could not cut it as a paralegal.

    The problem is that the term has been thrown around to include legal assistants. One major difference between a paralegal and a lawyer is that the paralegal cannot give legal advice. Many times, when a paralegal says that the lawyer told them that [fill in the blank], the paralegal is the one that told the lawyer and the lawyer adopted that as the explanation.

    Without them, the legal process does not function.

  2. Pamela J Starr

    Mitchell, thank you! It’s refreshing to be recognized for who we are and what we do.

  3. Bob

    The way I was paid in comparison to the lawyers, I would say one-third to one-quarter a lawyer would be more accurate.

  4. Pamela J Starr

    Sad, but true …

  5. Ana

    Great article. I actually never hear anyone refer to me as a half a lawyer. Which I believe is a good thing for everyone involved haha. Have a great weekend all.


  6. Pamela J Starr

    I was flummoxed when I read the ‘definition’ as ‘half a lawyer’. It made me wonder if other professions had been victims of the same ignominy. For instance …
    Paramedic: a person who works in a health field in an auxiliary capacity to a physician.
    Paramilitary: of or relating to a group that is not an official army but that operates and is organized like an army.
    Parachute: from French para– ‘protection against’ + chute ‘fall’.
    So maybe we provide protection against lawyers?? 😉