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Legal Secretary Associate's Degree

Legal secretary programs teach the administrative and clerical support skills needed to work in a law office. Learn about associate's degree requirements, common courses, professional certification and salary info for legal secretaries.

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, Inc. (NALS), which prepare you to sit for their Accredited Legal Professional certification exam.

Online AvailabilityFully online and hybrid programs are available
Common CoursesOffice management, law terminology, case analysis, business math, keyboarding
CertificationsNALS's Accredited Legal Professional certification recommended; other voluntary certifications are available
Median Salary (2018)$46,360* (for legal secretaries)
Job Outlook (2016-26)-19%* (for all legal secretaries)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 Professional 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, such as 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 that employment of legal secretaries would decrease by 19% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). The median yearly salary of legal secretaries in 2018 was $46,360, the BLS reported.