Legal Administrative Assistant Associate's Degree
Lawyers need help to perform their duties effectively and efficiently. In addition to a legal assistant, also known as a paralegal, law offices often need the services of a legal administrative assistant. These individuals help ease the daily operations of a law office. Read on for information about how to earn a legal administrative assistant associate's degree. Schools offering Legal Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Why Should I Pursue a Legal Administrative Assistant Associate's Degree?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a legal administrative assistant is comparable to a legal or law secretary (www.bls.gov). You may qualify for an entry-level secretarial position with just a high school diploma and some basic office skills. However, the BLS further states that legal administrative assistants are required to undergo specialized training to familiarize with legal terminology and law office procedures. Though there are 1-year programs that may lead to a certificate or diploma, you can choose to enroll in a comprehensive 2-year program leading to an associate's degree.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) lists more than 190 community colleges and technical schools that may offer programs specifically geared toward an associate's degree as a legal administrative assistant as of 2011. But you can also locate paralegal or legal assistant associate's degree programs approved by the American Bar Association at its website.
What Does a Program Entail?
A legal administrative assistant program can take you 18-24 months to complete and may consist of 65-108 credits leading to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. Courses discuss the fundamentals of office administration, such as keyboarding, business communication and database applications. Law-related courses can include legal research and writing, litigation, legal terminology, law office information systems, transcription and document preparation. Most programs require you to complete an internship or co-op program at a school-approved legal office. State guidelines may influence a school's curriculum, such as length and content.
What Online Options Are Available?
You can pursue a program partially or fully online. If internships, field trips or lab sections are included as part of the program, you must complete them in a live setting. Schools may allow you to complete general education courses and some law-related courses online. Programs that don't include an in-person requirement may include a capstone project. Online schooling is generally asynchronous, but needs to be completed within a prescribed time frame.
What Is the Occupational Outlook?
The BLS notes that you may enhance your employment and advancement possibilities by becoming certified. The National Association of Legal Secretaries offers the Accredited Legal Secretary designation to those who have one year of experience and pass an exam. With additional experience, you may be eligible to sit for a certification examination as a Professional Legal Secretary or Professional Paralegal. Further studies and experience can qualify you to sit for the Legal Secretaries International, Inc. Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) examination.
In 2010, the BLS determined employment opportunities for legal secretaries would increase 18% from 2008-2018. In contrast, paralegal opportunities would increase 28% over the same time period. As of 2010, the BLS determined the mean annual wage for legal secretaries or administrative assistants to be $43,270, while paralegals came in at $49,640.
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