As law offices moved away from the use of legal secretaries and toward the employment of legal assistants instead, this very different role required a number of different qualifications from potential candidates. Legal assistants take a greater role in a law office, and as such need to be far more familiar with the legal system in general.
Being a legal assistant was at core a kind of general helper to a lawyer, but required a far more involved and hands-on approach.
In today’s parlance, the terms paralegal and legal assistant are typically interchangeable. While many who work as such prefer the former term, there is no difference between the two. The difference between these and the role of legal secretary is that the latter is primarily a clerical role, and that of a paralegal or legal assistant is so much more.