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 performs 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. For such courses, a high school diploma, keyboarding ability and a basic knowledge of word processing software are needed.
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Legal Secretary Certificate Program
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
- 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 May 2015, the median annual salary for legal secretaries was $43,200. 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.
Executive legal secretary training can be obtained through a certification program or on-the-job training. Graduates of legal secretary certificate programs have knowledge pertaining to U.S. court systems, legal research, and ethics and law, among other topics.