Legal Secretary Certificate: Certificate Overview
Find out how earning a legal secretary certificate can lead to similar legal careers and professional certification. Research the typical curriculum and prerequisites, and learn about potential salaries and employment growth for workers in this field.
Aspiring legal secretaries or those already employed as legal secretaries can benefit from earning a legal secretary certificate. Studies often focus on managing a legal office, writing legal documents, data processing or performing legal research. Individuals could have the opportunity to learn in the classroom as well as online. Depending on the program, students could earn a certificate in anywhere from two months to a year.
Schools might request that applicants have fundamental word processing knowledge and typing skills. Applicants might also have to take placement tests before being accepted to certificate programs. To continue in the legal field, there are undergraduate and graduate paralegal degree programs, as well as various certifications as legal secretaries.
Students receive instruction in various legal and jurisdictional concepts as well as computer programs specific to legal office procedures. Proofreading and citation formatting are other areas that certificate classes could cover. Schools could also help students build on their office skills with correspondence, telephone etiquette and file management training. Programs might also have writing assignments that require students to prepare a group of legal documents to turn in at the end of the term. Other course topics might also include:
- Civil investigation
- Business communication
- Insurance law
- Estate probate
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that between 2012 and 2022, employment opportunities for legal secretaries are projected to decline 3%, which is below average when compared to other occupations (www.bls.gov). This sluggish growth rate is attributed to current slow growth in the legal field in general.
The BLS indicated in 2013 that most legal secretaries made $26,450-$69,360 per year at that time. The majority of legal secretaries worked in legal services, the BLS reported, though those employed by the natural gas distribution industry earned the highest wages, averaging $64,780 per year.
Legal secretaries have the option to pursue further education as a paralegal, which usually requires a paralegal certificate or associate degree, though some schools offer bachelor's or master's degrees in paralegal studies. Another option is to earn a professional certification from an association like the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS), the International Association of Administrative Professionals or Legal Secretaries International, Inc., each of which offers legal secretary credentials. Earning designations such as the Certified Professional Secretary (CPS), the Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS), the Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) or the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS) require passing required tests and having various years of experience.
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