Don’t Let the Judge Make You Pay for “Legal Assistant” Fees In Error

By: Wallin & Klarich

It is commonly understood by parties to a family law case, such as a divorce, that there are times when you can ask the judge to order the opposing party to pay for your own legal fees. Legal fees will typically include attorney fees and paralegal or legal assistant fees. But watch out, not all paralegals are created equally. Better said, not all people who claim to be paralegals are actually paralegals.

California Business and Professions Code 6450 et. seq. defines paralegal and legal assistant. For our purposes, “paralegal” and “legal assistant” are the same thing. The thing is, not just anyone can be a paralegal. A paralegal is a person who has obtained the necessary legal training and schooling and earned a certification specifically as a paralegal. Besides a few exceptions, no other person may use the title paralegal.

When you hire a lawyer, you may consider asking if the paralegal used is certified. This is because if a situation arises where you ask the judge to order the opposing party to pay for your legal fees, you want to make sure the order will also include paralegal fees. If the paralegal working on your case is not certified, the judge may not order the opposing party to pay for them. That means you would be footing the bill for all paralegal work done.

Additionally, before the judge orders you to pay for the opposing party’s paralegal fees, you better make sure the “paralegal” used by the opposing counsel is, in fact, a paralegal. If not, the judge may not order you to pay paralegal fees. Paralegal fees in a case can be substantial, especially if the case has been pending for a long time. Most law firms bill their paralegal work at a minimum of $125 an hour. Some are quite a bit higher.

If you have any questions, contact a qualified family law attorney at Wallin & Klarich at 1-888-280-6839 or visit

Posted In: Family Law Issues