Both aspiring and current 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. To apply for admission, students need to pass placement tests and demonstrate basic word processing and typing skills.
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, basic office skills, correspondence practices, telephone etiquette, and file management. Some certificate programs require students to complete an end-of-term assignment involving the preparation of legal documents. Standard courses in a legal secretary certificate program include:
- Civil investigation
- Business communication
- Insurance law
- Estate probate
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that between 2014 and 2024, employment opportunities for legal secretaries will likely decline by four percent, most likely because much of the work previously done by legal secretaries can now be completed by paralegals and legal assistants, due to advancements in technology.
According to the BLS, the median wage for legal secretaries was $43,200 per year in 2015. The majority of legal secretaries worked in legal services, but those employed by the natural gas distribution industry earned the highest wages, averaging $66,140 per year.
Legal secretaries have the option to pursue further education as a paralegal, which usually requires a paralegal certificate or an associate's 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. After gaining several years of experience and passing certain tests, you may also be able to gain one of the following designations:
- Certified Professional Secretary (CPS)
- Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS)
- Professional Legal Secretary (PLS)
- Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS)
Overall, with a legal secretary certificate, you can boost your legal and administrative knowledge and gain more experience. This can improve your job prospects and put you on track to earn a higher level designation or pursue a degree in the field.