Many schools offer online degree programs in legal office technology that train graduates to work in legal office administration. Most programs offer Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees that provide basic instruction in business, English, math, legal office technology and legal office procedures and skills. In many of these programs, students can access course materials as their schedules permit or log on at a set time for class via video streaming. A reliable computer with up-to-date capacities is a must, and many courses require special software. Some programs may require occasional on-campus visits.
It requires about two years of full-time study to complete an A.A.S. program in legal office technology. Students get a solid background in business procedures as well as in topics specific to the field of study. They take courses in computers and office technology, law office procedures and the preparation of legal documents.
While not required, professional certification may increase a graduate's standing with potential employers. Several organizations for legal secretaries offer certifications that can be obtained through training, experience and passing a competency examination.
A.A.S. in Legal Office Technology
An online A.A.S. in Legal Office Technology program generally includes standard office administration courses, which include business communication, management and accounting. Students also complete classes related specifically to legal office administration. Prospective students looking for A.A.S. programs in legal office technology should also search for programs in office technology which offer a legal concentration.
Program Information and Requirements
Most of the coursework is completely online, although some schools may require occasional on-campus visits. Coursework is generally delivered via an online learning management system, which allows students to download course materials and participate in threaded group discussions. Depending on the class, students either log in at a designated time or on their own schedule, but there is generally a deadline for assignments and exams.
Students should have access to a computer with multimedia capabilities, e-mail and a fast Internet connection in order to participate in the online lessons. A recent operating system and web browser are generally recommended. Certain courses may have additional technical requirements.
List of Common Legal Office Technology Courses
The curricula for online A.A.S. degrees combine general education core credits with legal office topics. Courses also cover general administrative and technological areas.
This class presents an overview of hardware components, software, connectors and network gear that are typically used in offices. Students discuss basic troubleshooting procedures.
Students learn the fundamentals of writing and formatting various business documents, including letters, e-mail, news releases, memos and instructions. Other topics include research techniques and document analysis.
Law Office Procedures
Students learn how to handle basic administrative duties in a legal office. Office support issues are discussed from an organizational, technological and social focus.
Legal Document Preparation
This course teaches students how to edit and proofread legal documents. The use of technology for document customization is also discussed.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for legal administrative assistants and paralegals are expected to grow 8% from 2014-2024, as fast as the national average (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for paralegals and legal administrative assistants in 2015 was $48,810.
Continuing Education Information
Legal administrative assistants can apply to the National Association of Legal Secretaries and pass proficiency tests to earn the basic Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) or the advanced Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) certifications (www.nals.org). Legal Secretaries International provides exams for experienced legal secretaries to earn the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) designation in several legal specialties (www.legalsecretaries.org).
An online A.A.S. in Legal Office Technology prepares students for the optional certification exams available to aspiring paralegals and legal administrative assistants. These programs teach students about law office procedures, legal document preparation, business communications and more.