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Education Paths for Legal Secretaries

Education Paths for Legal Secretaries

Currin Berdine / AdminSecret

Congratulations! You’ve decided to enter an exciting and rewarding field. To get the most out of yourself and your job, employers and experts suggest you pursue an applicable education. First, without question, you should earn your high school diploma or equivalent. This will ensure you know the basic grammar, reading, and typing skills to qualify for a legal secretary position. Furthermore, if you want to pursue more education towards becoming a legal secretary, having your high school diploma is a required prerequisite.

Following high school, you should highly consider higher or secondary education. This is where the road forks. You can either pursue a vocational or technical school, two or four year community college, or a four year undergraduate program. With most legal secretary programs, you can opt to take classes on-line or on campus.

Vocational/Technical School

The most basic way to further your education and hone your skills is with a few courses at a vocational or technical school. The training program will usually include:

-Jurisdiction and Venue
-Accounting
-Introduction to Information Technology
- Professional and Legal Writing
- Legal Terminology and Transcription
- Legal Research
- Law Office Management
- and more…

The length of each program varies but is in the range of 2 months to 12 months of class and hands-on training. With this type of program, you would earn a Legal Secretary Diploma or certificate.

Getting Certified

Certification is optional for legal secretaries, but many choose to pursue it for a better chance at employment or advancement. Legal secretaries who have less than three years of experience can become Accredited Legal Secretaries (ALS). Those who have three or more years of experience can be certified as Professional Legal Secretaries (PLS). Applicants for the PLS title must pass an exam.

The National Association of Legal Secretaries offers certification exams and preparation courses. For more information go their site: http://www.nals.org/certification/index.html

Go Further with Instruction from a Two-Year Community College Program

By taking another year to earn your degree, you will gain more knowledge and skills to apply to your work. This will make your job easier and your output more impressive. In addition, you will be in higher demand by employers, open more potential for job growth, and earn more money. Typically in a two year program to become a legal secretary, one would pursue an Associate’s Degree as a Legal Office Administration or an Associate’s Degree in Legal Studies. Courses would be similar to the ones at a technical school, but would be more in-depth and include additional applicable classes. Examples include:

-Legal Procedures – Litigation
-Real Estate Law
-Software Applications
-Family Law
-Criminal Law
-Contract Studies
-and more…

Stand Out with a Bachelor’s Degree

If you truly want to be a stellar applicant, knowledgeable worker, and earn more money, then highly consider earning your Bachelor’s Degree. More than ever, employers are demanding undergraduate degrees from potential legal secretaries. Those with a specialized education are easier to train, produce better work, have spent more time working in teams, have fine-tuned their communication skills, and are more apt to be promoted.

Bachelor’s of Legal Studies is one of the more popular paths to follow because like the one and two year programs, they focus on working in a legal or court environment. This program, however, will offer an array of classes that can be applied to more areas of the workplace. Furthermore, you can specialize in specific areas such as family law, real estate law, criminal law, etc. Some of the coursework includes:

-Legal Ethics
-General Practice Substantive Law
-Domestic Relations
-Marketing
-Estates and Probate
-American Government
- and more…

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By being familiar with these important topics, you will have the familiarity necessary to become a stand-out legal secretary. Your résumé will be very impressive and you will be comfortable with the responsibilities of the job. A degree will also serve as a platform to advance to other arenas like Paralegal work or a judicial practice (judge).

Master’s and PhDs Prove Expertise in the Field

If you want to go all the way with your education more power to you! There are a number of degrees and areas to study, each with a unique and rich course offering. The most common pursuits for top positions in the legal field are:

Master of Science Degree in Justice Administration
M.S. in Legal Studies: Law and Public Policy
Master of Science in Criminal Justice (MS-CJ)
Master of Art Degree Humanities and Social Sciences
Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) or Master of Laws (LL.M.) (i.e. law degree)

Being a legal secretary is usually an entry-level type job in a law office or court facility. If you intend to reach for a higher position in the workplace, then going for your graduate degree is a wise idea. You might still start off as a legal secretary, but your ability to go further faster will be greatly increased with such a notable education.


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