High school graduates can apply for admission to legal office support certificate programs. Within this program, students examine keyboarding, record keeping, business communications, legal ethics and transcription. Students gain proficiency in software, such as the Microsoft Office Suite. These programs often include an internship or externship and most can be completed in as little as a year.
Certificate Programs in Legal Office Support
These programs train students in common occupational responsibilities, such as proofreading, word processing, database management and legal document preparation. More specific training may focus on record keeping, communications and document formatting. Courses may also include coursework in legal ethics, accounting and business law. In some cases, students could have the opportunity to take liberal arts electives. Common program topics include:
- Business English
- Legal office practices
- Microsoft Word, Access, and Excel
- Keyboarding speed development
- Legal terminology
- Information transcription
Career Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies legal office support specialists as legal secretaries, who are designated as a subset of secretaries and administrative assistants (www.bls.gov). The BLS states that total employment of legal secretaries was expected to decrease by 4% from 2014-2024.
In May 2015, most legal secretaries were employed by legal services providers, state and local governments and insurance carriers. At that time, the mean annual wage for all legal secretaries was $46,470.
Certification and Continuing Education Info
After obtaining a certificate, legal secretaries may choose to pursue an associate degree. Related fields include paralegal training, business and office administration.
While it's not required, legal office support specialists who hold specific training or experience requirements can earn certification through associations like the NALS and Legal Secretaries International. The NALS offers the Professional Legal Secretary credential, while Legal Secretaries International offers the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist designation. All of these certifications are contingent upon the passage of exams, as well as minimum educational and professional experience requirements.
To summarize, aspiring legal secretaries can develop the office skills required for entry-level jobs by earning an undergraduate legal office support certificate. Those who want to further their education may enroll in an associate degree program when they finish.