Through legal secretarial training, you can prepare for an administrative career in the legal field.
Law offices depend on administrative assistants who understand the unique aspects of working in a legal setting. A training program can help you develop the specialized knowledge and skills that you need for the field.
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With a legal secretaries certificate, you can demonstrate that you’re prepared for clerical duties in law offices. Your learned skill set may also help you build a career in an alternative field, such as business or government.
Online Legal Secretarial Training Programs
Legal secretaries play critical roles in law firms. The work that they do helps offices run smoothly and keeps team members on track. Without the input of legal secretaries, lawyers and paralegals would be tasked with many additional responsibilities.
To become a legal administrative assistant, you can complete a legal secretary certificate program. This type of program consists of college-level courses that prepare you for carrying out clerical and administrative duties in legal settings.
Without a relevant education, you might not be familiar with the vocabulary and procedures used in law offices. The topics that you’ll study can include:
- Grammar and writing
- Law office structure and roles
- Legal terms
- Office technology
- Professional conduct
- Records and filing
While this type of training might not be required by all employers, it may give you an advantage over job candidates who are not as knowledgeable about office technology and legal terminology.
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If you’re interested in legal matters and want to work in an office setting, you might be a good match for an online legal secretary program. Legal secretaries often need to be organized, attentive, and disciplined about accomplishing tasks on time. Being comfortable with software and technology can also be beneficial for this career.
After completing legal secretary school, you can apply for office jobs with law firms. The job title for such roles might be legal secretary or legal administrative assistant. Being a law firm secretary isn’t the same as being a paralegal.
That career option requires paralegal training and national certification. If you later decide to become a paralegal, it may benefit you to consider one of the accelerated paralegal programs that some universities offer.
You’ll learn a variety of administrative skills while in your program, so you may find that the training is also useful for office jobs outside of the legal field. For example, you might be able to apply your training as an executive secretary, an information clerk, or a receptionist.
Legal Secretarial Careers & Salaries
Most people who earn legal secretary certificates plan to become legal secretaries or administrative assistants. These are clerical or administrative roles that are performed in legal settings.
Most legal secretaries work in law offices, but other employers who deal with legal matters may hire for this role as well. For example, some government agencies or nonprofit groups could benefit from your specialized training and skill set.
If you are hired as a legal secretary, you may be responsible for answering phones, scheduling client meetings, filing paperwork, typing dictation, and preparing memos. Although you might be able to answer basic questions about your firm’s services, you’ll need to relay queries about legal matters to a more senior member of the team.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, legal secretaries and administrative assistants earn an average annual salary of $48,980.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants||$63,110|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Insurance Carriers||$55,560|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Legal Services||$49,110|
|Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers||$48,820|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, State Government||$47,320|
|Legal Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Local Government||$46,490|
|Court, Municipal, and License Clerks||$40,930|
|General Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$38,850|
|General Office Clerks||$35,330|
The office skills that you can acquire in a legal secretary certificate program can apply to other fields as well. For example, your learned skill set might help you work as a customer service representative, an administrative assistant, or an executive secretary in the business world.
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You might be a good fit for a legal secretary program if you are organized and pay close attention to details. Those same skills can also help you perform the tasks of an information clerk. In particular, your legal background might be useful in court clerk or license clerk positions. You could also consider pursuing a job as a title examiner.
Legal Secretary Training Courses
To earn legal secretary certification, you’ll take classes on business practices, legal matters, office technology, and professional conduct. The examples listed below may be similar to the courses offered by your school.
- Business Management in Law Offices: This class will cover workplace responsibilities that you might handle, such as billing, scheduling, and making travel plans.
- Business Writing: In a composition course, you’ll review grammar and sentence structure and learn to format professional letters and memos.
- Filing and Records: This portion of your studies will address systems of keeping information organized and accessible.
- Legal Documents: You’ll put your business writing skills into practice as you learn to produce specific documents for various legal scenarios.
- Legal Profession Overview: You’ll learn the various roles of legal secretaries as well as discuss the roles of other team members in a law office.
- Legal Terminology: In one or more classes, you’ll learn to speak the language of law offices, understand the corresponding abbreviations, and use legal reference materials.
- Professional Practices: Focusing on issues like ethics and time management, this course will teach you how to conduct yourself in the workplace.
- Technology for Law Offices: Your time in this class will discuss computers, peripheral equipment, and software programs that are used in business settings.
- Transcription Practices: During this class, you’ll learn to turn voice recordings into professional documents.
- Workplace Communication: In this course, you can practice delivering clear messages and maintaining professional decorum.
Legal secretarial programs at accredited colleges often include 5 to 8 courses.
Each school sets its own requirements for admission to their legal secretary program. You can expect to fill out an application form, which may ask for details about your:
- Academic background
- Personal information
- Planned course of study
- Work history
A high school diploma may be a requirement. The school might request official transcripts that outline any high school or college courses that you’ve taken. Some schools expect students to have completed a basic course of study in office administration before enrolling in legal secretary training.
Many schools offer legal secretary programs. When you’re deciding where to attend, it’s helpful to look for a college that holds regional accreditation. That’s a sign that the school does a good job educating students at all levels, from certificates to graduate degrees.
Regionally accredited courses may later transfer into a higher-level program. For example, some of your work might count toward a paralegal associate degree. There’s no guarantee, but accreditation can boost your chances. Enrolling at an accredited school might also help qualify you to receive government student aid.
You might qualify for financial aid to help with the cost of your legal secretaries training. You may be able to receive state or federal student aid, which can involve grants or loans. Only accredited programs are eligible for government assistance, and you’ll often need to be enrolled for at least 6 credit hours per semester.
To find out more about your eligibility, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarships are another way to try and fund your college courses. These are gifts that can cover part or all of your schooling costs.
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Scholarships are usually given by private organizations, such as community clubs or professional associations. Even if government student aid isn’t an option for your studies, you might still be eligible for some scholarships. Some employers will also cover a portion of an employee’s college costs.
What Is a Legal Secretary?
A legal secretary is a clerical and administrative professional who works in a law office or a related setting. They are responsible for carrying out tasks that contribute to the work of lawyers and paralegals.
Legal secretaries are differentiated from other secretaries because of their knowledge of terminology, procedures, and documents that are specific to the legal field.
Even still, legal secretaries perform many of the same tasks as other administrative assistants. For example, they might file paperwork, answer phones, schedule appointments, and handle correspondence.
What Does a Legal Secretary Do?
Some of a legal secretary’s tasks are clerical in nature. You might greet clients, answer phones, schedule meetings, and handle incoming and outgoing mail. You might also be in charge of taking care of office equipment and making sure that supplies are stocked.
Other duties will draw on your legal training. The paralegals and lawyers in your office might depend on you to transcribe memos, type subpoenas, maintain files on court cases, and organize case materials. With experience, you might take on a supervisory role that involves coordinating the administrative staff.
What Training Do You Need to Be a Legal Secretary?
While there isn’t a universal standard for working as a legal secretary, completing a legal secretary certificate program can help prepare you for the responsibilities of this role.
Unlike other secretarial staff, legal administrative assistants need to understand law terminology, documents, and procedures. By completing a training program, you can become familiar with those concepts before entering the profession.
After completing your certificate program, you might be eligible to boost your resume by passing a certification exam from NALS, the association for legal professionals.
How Much Does a Legal Secretary Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for legal secretaries and administrative assistants is $48,980. Most people in such positions earn between $29,620 and $82,270 per year.
This certificate might also help you become a court, municipal, or license clerk. Most workers with those job titles earn between $27,240 and $62,970 annually. Similar pay rates are available for title examiners, abstractors, and searchers. The typical pay range is between $30,320 and $82,180 each year.
What’s the Difference Between a Legal Secretary vs. Paralegal?
Both legal secretaries and paralegals assist lawyers. These two categories of professionals do similar jobs, but they aren’t the same.
Responsibilities of a legal secretary can include:
- Answering phones
- Maintaining filing systems
- Scheduling appointments
- Typing memos
A paralegal’s tasks may include:
- Answering clients’ questions
- Conducting research on laws and court cases
- Interviewing witnesses
- Writing legal documents
Paralegals typically have a higher level of education than legal secretaries. Also, to officially use the title of paralegal, they must be certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
What’s the Difference Between a Legal Assistant vs. Legal Secretary?
Just as many students question the difference between legal assistant vs. paralegal, so too do many wonder what’s different between legal assistant vs. legal secretary. The titles legal secretary and legal assistant sound similar, but these are two different roles within a law office.
|Legal Secretary||Legal Assistant|
The titles legal assistant and paralegal are often used interchangeably. The technical difference is that legal assistants are not certified like paralegals.
Is a Legal Secretary Certificate Program Worth It?
Yes, a legal secretary certificate program is worth it for many students. This course of study can help you gain foundational knowledge about working in legal settings. A legal secretary certificate can showcase your training and qualifications to potential employers.
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Legal secretary studies can also be the first step toward becoming a certified paralegal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 10% job growth for legal assistants and paralegals over the next decade.
Universities Offering Online Legal Secretary Certificate Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Duke University offers a Legal Secretarial Certificate. Students must complete 300 hours, with 144 hours dedicated to a legal study of their choosing.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. A resume and a reference letter must be submitted to the school.
Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Humboldt State University offers an online Legal Secretary Certificate program. The program can be started at any time and requires students to register for only one course.
This course covers legal terminology and managerial information needed for handling a law office. Anyone can register for the class as long as there are still open slots.
Humboldt State University is accredited by the WASC Senior College & University Commission.
Purdue University offers an online Legal Secretary Certificate program. Each course lasts for 10 weeks. To graduate, students must obtain 31 credits. They may be able to gain credits for prior work experience.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have all financial arrangements made before starting the program. If they are younger than 18, they must have their legal guardian’s consent to join the program.
Purdue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Rasmussen University offers online programs for a Paralegal Studies Certificate and an Associate’s in Paralegal Studies. Interested applicants must contact an admissions advisor to apply and finish an entrance placement exam.
The certificate program can usually be completed in 8 months after completing 9 courses, while the associate’s degree program typically takes 18 months to complete and requires 24 courses.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Washington Online Learning Institute offers a number of paralegal programs. Options include Master Paralegal, Senior Paralegal, National Paralegal, and Specialized Paralegal certificate programs. Courses can be completed at a student’s own pace.
Enrollment to Washington Online Learning Institute requires a high school diploma or equivalent and the completion of an online application form.
Washington Online Learning Institute is accredited by the Middle States Association.
Get Started On Your Legal Secretarial Training Now
Legal secretaries play an integral role in a law office or related setting. In this role, your work can support the efforts of lawyers and paralegals and contribute to client satisfaction.
This type of job requires an understanding of technical terms, policies, and procedures. A legal secretary certificate program can help prepare you for the workforce as you take courses on office administration and legal practices.
When looking for a reputable certificate program, you may want to only consider regionally accredited colleges. Online programs, whether they are online legal secretarial training programs or even the best online paralegal certificate programs, can also be regionally accredited, and they are often the most flexible learning option.
If you’re ready to begin training for the legal field, you can start by exploring accredited legal secretary certificate programs.