Online associate's degree programs in legal administration are fairly common and many of them can be completed entirely through distance education. Some of them, however, do require an internship. Generally, the programs focus on theory, systems, methodologies and ethics related to the legal field, along with basic administrative and management skills. Some programs require a capstone project. Upon successful completion of the two-year program, graduates are awarded an Associate in Science in Legal Administration.
Associate's Degree in Legal Administration
An associate's degree program in legal administration requires about 110 credit hours of coursework, often culminating in an internship or capstone project. Most schools host an online educational delivery system which facilitates the completion of coursework and enables class communication, so access to a personal computer and the Internet are essential. Students are also expected to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) throughout the degree program.
Students are required to take general education courses in addition to core classes. Legal administration courses cover legal systems, research, procedures and vocabulary. Students learn the protocol for preparing legal documents and assisting lawyers in court-related tasks. Common core classes are listed below.
Legal Procedures and Systems
This course presents a general overview of legal systems and practical office and court procedures. Basic research methods and resources used in the legal field are also discussed.
Court Reporting and Transcription
Students get an introduction to machine transcription, emphasizing speed and accuracy. They learn the rules and punctuation styles used in transcribing and reporting legal proceedings. Additionally, participants learn how to create legal documents, letters, contracts and memos.
Introduction to Legal Research and Writing
This class teaches students how to effectively use the law library and other resources for legal research. Students examine various legal reference materials including statutes and codes, regulations and rulings, treaties, judicial reports, indexes,digests, periodicals and executive orders. Methods and techniques used to write effective legal reports are also covered.
Online associate's degree programs in legal administration are designed for individuals interested in positions such as legal assistant or paralegal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), legal assistants and paralegals earned a median annual wage of $50,940 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). Jobs for this profession were expected to grow by 12% between 2018 and 2028, reported the BLS.
Graduates should make sure their credits from an online program will be transferable if they intend to seek a higher degree. Bachelor's and graduate degree programs in legal studies are available online for those wishing to continue their distance learning education.
Certification, though optional, may be another way to boost a graduate's employability and career advancement. The National Association of Legal Professionals offers voluntary, industry-recognized certification exams. For example, individuals can achieve the designation of Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) by passing an exam and meeting requirements in education or experience.
Graduates of an online program in legal administration will have the skills to assist lawyers with various tasks, such as writing legal reports and documents and performing research. Students might be required to complete a capstone project and/or internship.