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Executive Legal Secretary Training and Education Program Overviews

A legal secretary certificate program prepares individuals to draft legal reports, perform background research, and carry out administrative duties. While many legal secretaries learn their skills through on-the-job training, a legal secretary certificate program is another option. Explore prerequisites, course samples, certifications and job growth for this field.

Essential Information

Students enrolled in a legal secretary certificate program develop an understanding of the U.S. legal process, as well as build their secretarial skills. They study legal terminology, legal ethics, filing and billing procedures, legal research processes, legal document preparation, and more. They have the option of earning a legal secretary certification.

A legal secretary job is different from that of a paralegal, who perform much more substantive legal tasks. While a paralegal might complete an associate's degree program, a legal secretary need only complete certificate courses at a community college or university.

Education Prerequisites

  • Before enrolling in an executive legal secretary certificate program, students should have solid keyboarding ability and a basic knowledge of word processing software.
  • A high school diploma is often required.
  • Some programs are specifically designed for students who already have an educational or professional background in the secretarial field.

Program Coursework

Many legal secretary certificate programs offer courses that cover both the legal background and practical office skills needed for employment. Some specific topics covered include:

  • U.S. court systems
  • Organization of law firms, billing and filing procedures
  • Written communication
  • Legal research
  • Ethics and law
  • Records and time management

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012, nearly 217,000 legal secretaries were employed in the United States (www.bls.gov). More than 187,000 of these professionals were employed directly by law firms, while others worked for government agencies and insurance companies. In May 2014, the median annual salary in the field was $$42,770. Employment of legal secretaries is projected to decline 3 percent from 2012 to 2022. In order to cut costs, a growing number of legal firms are having paralegals and legal assistants perform work normally done by legal secretaries (www.bls.gov).

Certification and Continuing Education

Two organizations offering national certification for legal secretaries include the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) and Legal Secretaries International. Professional certificates are not required in the field, but can be useful to jobseekers looking for employment, as well as for professionals looking to improve their career opportunities and salary potential.

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