Legal Secretary Education Requirements
Legal secretaries have a combination of basic legal knowledge and secretarial skills. While not all legal secretaries have post-secondary education, certificate and degree programs prepare legal secretaries for career advancement by familiarizing them with court filing rules, legal documents, legal terminology and law office procedures.
Education Requirements for Legal Secretaries
While some legal secretaries have no formal post-secondary training, the large majority have completed legal secretary certificate or associate degree programs at community colleges or career schools. Legal secretary programs equip students with an understanding of general legal office procedures and legal terminology. They also prepare graduates to produce legal documents, including subpoenas, legal memos, complaints, motions, charges, discovery documents, deeds, pleadings and briefs.
Potential courses include business math, legal research, records management, legal technology, business law, legal transcription, legal writing, business communications, word processing and law terminology. Upon completion of a legal secretary program, graduates are familiar with court filing rules, probate and estate planning, proper legal symbols and filing techniques, as well as legal fundamentals such as employment law and torts.
Legal secretaries provide administrative support to lawyers. Combining general secretarial skills with basic legal knowledge and skills, legal secretaries help with legal research, maintain office records, type briefs and subpoenas, maintain docket systems, record trial dates and schedule witnesses. They also schedule depositions and hearings, as well as update discovery binders.
Most legal secretaries work with law firms. Other employment settings may include courts, government agencies, public interest firms, non-profit organizations and corporate legal departments. Legal secretaries may also find employment as legal word processors, document clerks, litigation assistants or legal receptionists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment for legal secretaries would grow by 18% between 2008 and 2018. Legal secretaries had median annual wages of nearly $40,000 in 2008, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
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