Legal Secretary Associate's Degree
Do you want to work in a law office? Are you interested in helping lawyers research and prepare documents related to court cases? If so, you can earn an associate's degree and become a legal secretary, paralegal or legal assistant through community colleges and technical schools around the country. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Legal Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is a Legal Secretary Associate's Degree Program Like?
An associate's degree program for legal secretaries gives you the training necessary for entry-level employment at a law firm. Some programs also prepare you to become a paralegal or legal assistant. You learn about preparing legal documents and managing a legal office. The curriculum will also teach you how to use the software commonly found in legal offices and how to calculate billing hours. It's also important to gain a working knowledge of basic legal terms and principles, transcription skills and research methods.
If you're looking for a flexible learning option, there are many for-profit schools that offer online legal secretary associate's degree programs. Additionally, some non-profit schools offer many of your required courses through the Internet. You can also take online training courses sponsored by the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), Inc., which prepare you to sit for their Accredited Legal Secretary Certification exam.
What Courses Will I Take?
Aside from the electives commonly required in an associate's degree program, as a legal secretary student, you take courses that discuss office management, law terminology, keyboarding, business math and communication. Your coursework helps you develop your writing and critical thinking skills. Case analysis, workplace diversity and law practice management are also covered. You also take classes that give you an in-depth understanding of common law office software, including the Microsoft Office suite, Adobe InDesign and Web design programs.
Do I Need Certification?
While you don't need certification for employment as a legal secretary, the NALS's Accredited Legal Secretary Certification shows employers that you're ready for the job. The Professional Legal Secretary and Professional Paralegal designations can help you advance in your career. Legal Secretaries International, Inc. offers the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist credential for those who work in specialized areas, including criminal law, probate, civil litigation and intellectual property law. Some certifications, especially advanced certifications, require you to have some work experience.
What Will My Career Be Like?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected in 2008 that employment of legal secretaries would increase faster than average (www.bls.gov). Wages for the middle 50% of legal secretaries in 2010 were $32,280-$52,710, the BLS reported.
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