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Legal Secretary Certificate: Certificate Overview

Legal secretary certificate programs are short-term educational options that offer fundamental administrative and legal knowledge. Students earning this certificate learn many different aspects of working in a legal office.

Essential Information

Aspiring legal secretaries or those already employed as legal secretaries can benefit from earning a legal secretary certificate. Studies may focus on managing a legal office, writing legal documents, data processing, or performing legal research. The program, which can last from two to twelve months, may be available in a traditional classroom or online.

  • Program Levels for Legal Secretary: Certificate
  • Prerequisites: Basic word processing and typing skills; placement tests
  • Online Availability: Commonly found online
  • Program Length:Two to twelve months
  • Other Requirements:Possible end of term project

Legal Secretary Certificate

Students working towards a legal secretary certificate receive instruction in various legal and jurisdictional concepts, as well as in using software for legal practice management. They may also receive training in proofreading and citation formatting. Additionally, the program may help students improve their basic office skills in correspondence, telephone etiquette, and file management. Some certificate programs may require students to complete an end of term assignment involving the preparation of legal documents. Other courses in a legal secretary certificate program might include:

  • Civil investigation
  • Litigation
  • Business communication
  • Insurance law
  • Estate probate

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that between 2012 and 2022, employment opportunities for legal secretaries are projected to decline 3%, which is below average when compared to other occupations (www.bls.gov). This sluggish growth rate is attributed to current slow growth in the legal field in general.

The BLS indicated in 2014 that legal secretaries in the 25th to 75th percentiles made between $32,970 and $56,770 per year at that time. The majority of legal secretaries worked in legal services, the BLS reported, though those employed by the natural gas distribution industry earned the highest wages, averaging $64,920 per year.

Continuing Education

Legal secretaries have the option to pursue further education as a paralegal, which usually requires a paralegal certificate or associate degree, though some schools offer bachelor's or master's degrees in paralegal studies. Another option is to earn a professional certification from an association like the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), the International Association of Administrative Professionals or Legal Secretaries International, Inc., each of which offers legal secretary credentials. Earning designations such as the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS), the Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS), the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) or the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) require passing required tests and having various years of experience.

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