Legal Administration Degree and Certificate Program Overviews
Legal administration degree and certificate programs prepare students for work as legal secretaries, legal assistants, paralegals and law office administrators. These careers require varied levels of education and experience. Legal administration positions require technology-savvy employees with good research and writing skills.
Bachelor's Degrees in Legal Administration
In addition to a legal office administration major, students can also concentrate their studies in administration through a bachelor's degree program in legal studies. Many programs include an internship or practicum to apply skills learned in a legal environment and learn from experienced professionals. A 4-year bachelor's degree program typically has no prerequisites aside from a high school education; however, students enrolling in 2-year completion programs need to have earned an associate degree.
Bachelor's degree programs are designed to introduce students to the U.S. justice system and outline the function and purpose of lawyers and courts. Students learn how to perform case research and manage administrative and technical aspects of a law office. Courses typically cover the following subjects:
- Legal research
- Law office management
- Accounting for legal practices
- Law firm marketing
- Law office technology
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degree graduates can qualify for office management and support positions at legal firms. Some possible job titles include:
- Legal assistant
- Legal product manager
- Legal secretary
- Law office administrator
Continuing Education Information
Those with a solid background in legal administration can also complete a post-baccalaureate certificate or master's degree program in administration or paralegal studies. Students can also use the legal administration bachelor's program as preparation for law school.
Graduate Certificate in Legal Administration
Post-baccalaureate certificate programs in legal administration serve students who don't want to complete a graduate degree or who hold a degree in another field. Some schools offer training that prepares students for paralegal certification.
Certificate programs in legal administration require students to have completed a bachelor's degree. Some schools recommend law office or legal administration experience. Students without the necessary background might need to take introductory courses in computer science.
Some legal administration certificate programs allow students to select coursework to meet career needs, such as legal specialty education, paralegal studies or legal office management courses. Common topics include:
- Legal writing and research
- Judicial processes
- World judicial systems
- Survey of courts
Popular Job Titles
Students currently working in a legal office could complete a certificate program to enhance their skills or advance a career. Some possible career options include:
- Paralegal administrator
- Paralegal supervisor
- Court administrator
- Legal office manager
Master's Degrees in Legal Administration
Master's degree programs in legal administration could include specialized education in law office, U.S. court or international court administration. Students can also find Master of Arts in Legal Studies and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs that offer concentrations in legal administration. A master's degree can usually be earned in two years, and some schools provide online learning.
A bachelor's degree is commonly required to enroll a master's program. Students usually need to submit scores from a graduate school entrance exam and an essay describing their interest in the field. MBA students are recommended to have at least two years' work experience before enrolling in the program.
Business-oriented curricula, such as that found in MBA programs, focus on business management, marketing, finance and accounting. Concentrated studies include courses in law office management, research and legal writing. Legal administration courses teach the fundamentals of working with clients, overseeing law office employees and operating a law office. Some common course topics include:
- Information technology for law offices
- Law office financial management
- Legal administration procedures and research
- Communicating with courts
- Methods for recruiting law firm employees
- Law office facility management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipated an 18% job growth for legal assistants and paralegals between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). In May 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for legal secretaries was $42,170, while paralegals and legal assistants earned a median income of $46,990 per year.
Continuing Education Information
Laws change on a regular basis, and legal administrators must keep up with the changes through continuing education. State bar associations and legal assistant organizations offer weekend courses or online seminars in a variety of legal interests. Associations, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, offer professional membership and voluntary certification programs that could advance a career or improve earning potential.
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