Students interested in legal office administration have a number of program options to consider, including certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree programs. Most schools only require a high school diploma or GED for admission to these programs. Some of the careers available in legal office administration may include administrative assistants, court reporters, paralegals and legal secretaries.
Certificate Programs in Legal Office Administration
Academic programs resulting in a legal office administration certificate typically take less than a year to complete. They are designed to prepare students for entry-level careers in legal office environments. They can also act as a development tool for professionals currently working in the industry.
Much of the coursework for these certificate programs consists of legal terminology, preparation and transcription of legal documents and legal office operational protocol. In addition to their academic coursework, students tend to be given instruction on the more intangible elements of the profession, such as discretion, professionalism and accuracy. Some of the classes commonly found in legal office administration certificate programs can include:
- Fundamental aspects of business law
- Financial accounting in a legal environment
- Introductory coursework in computers and software, communications and text entry applications
- Methods and techniques for law research and reporting
- Advanced classes in legal office ethics, procedures and document formatting
Two-Plus-Two Degree Programs in Legal Office Administration
Some two-year schools have established an agreement with four-year colleges and universities that connect associate's degree programs to bachelor's degree programs so that associate's degree program graduates can transition directly into a bachelor's degree program as a junior. Taking four years in total, two-plus-two programs prepare students for further legal education and for careers as legal office administrators or paralegals.
These programs are often developed to meet the educational and training needs of students from a variety of backgrounds. Some students might come into the program with little to no previous coursework or on-the-job training in legal office administration. Others might have a number of years of experience and are seeking to update their knowledge and skills.
In addition to general education classes, the coursework in associate's degree programs in legal office administration include advanced courses in keyboarding, ethics in a legal environment and computer applications. Some of the other classes that are common to most of these programs can include:
- Principles of communication and technical writing
- Introductory courses in simple contracts and legal writing
- Fundamentals of civil law procedures
- Strategies for legal records management
- Advanced legal document processing
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree in legal office administration can lead to occupations like a legal secretary, paralegal and legal assistant. Some of the other careers that include many of the same tasks as legal office administrators can include:
- Communications equipment operators
- Court reporters
- Data entry and information processing workers
- Paralegals and legal assistants
- Receptionists and information clerks
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the paralegal and legal assistant field was predicted to grow by about 8% between 2014 and 2024. This was as fast as the projected average growth of all jobs. The BLS also stated that in 2015, legal secretaries made an average yearly salary of $46,470 while paralegals and legal assistants made an average income of $52,390 per year (www.bls.gov).
Legal office administration training is offered through certificate programs as well as two-plus-two programs that confer associate's and bachelor's degrees. These programs teach students not only how to perform legal research and record-keeping, but also provide instruction in legal terminology and law office procedures.