Online Legal Secretary Schools
Get info on finding and selecting an accredited school for your legal secretary studies. Read about online certificate and diploma programs for aspiring legal secretaries, and check the admission requirements for these programs. Explore the course topics you'd study, and find out how online courses work. Review your certification options as a legal secretary.
Legal secretary education is available online at a few different program levels. Make sure you are well-informed about these programs, such as where they are offered, how they are delivered, and what coursework may include, by reading through this article.
How Do I Choose an Online Legal Secretary School?
First and foremost, you'll want to ensure that the school you're considering is accredited by a viable organization. This can be ascertained via online databases from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). You'll also want to choose between public and private schools, the latter of which may be slightly more costly, depending on your personal candidacy for such aid as scholarships and loans. You may wish to investigate if your school of choice has any affiliations with legal firms or related agencies that may avail work or internship opportunities or other resources. Lastly, you'll want to decide if you're seeking a certificate, diploma or degree in the field of legal assistance and support.
Can I Earn a Degree as a Legal Assistant?
There are two forms of educational accomplishment that pertain to the position of legal secretary. Depending on the school, you may earn a Certificate of Completion or a Legal Secretary Diploma. Both programs are available entirely online.
A diploma program is usually somewhat more comprehensive than a certificate program. The courses in certificate and diploma programs are more specialized and focused than those required for an associate's degree. A certificate program can take as little as seven weeks to complete, while a diploma program may take 45 weeks. An associate's degree typically takes two years to complete.
Which Schools Offer Legal Secretary Certificate Programs?
Many schools allow students to earn a legal secretary certificate online. Here are a few of them:
- University of North Dakota houses an online Legal Secretary Certificate program
- University of the Pacific provides a Legal Secretary Certificate program available online
- University of Georgia has an online Legal Secretary Certificate program
Which Schools Offer Legal Secretary Diploma Programs?
Legal secretary diploma programs can be found online at various colleges, such as those below:
- Anoka Technical College delivers an online Legal Administrative Assistant Diploma program
- Bryant & Stratton College hosts an online Legal Office Assistant Diploma program
- Penn Foster Career School has a Legal Secretary Career Diploma program offered entirely online
Which Schools Offer Legal Secretary Associate Degree Programs?
Online associate's degree programs in legal secretary are common offerings at plenty of institutions. Below are some examples:
- Baker College provides an online Associate of Business in Paralegal degree program
- Liberty University has an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies degree program available online
- Anoka Technical College offers an online Associate in Applied Science in Legal Administrative Assistant degree program
What Courses and Prerequisites Will I Need?
The only educational prerequisite you'll need to enter either a certificate or diploma program is a high school diploma or GED certificate. It's advisable that you have a basic knowledge of word processing a certain proficiency in typing in order to complete a certificate program, especially online. These skills may be covered within diploma programs.
A certificate program is not only intended for beginning secretaries, but for those professionals who wish to brush up on their law office skills. A typical certificate program consists of training in: billing and accounting, notices and motions, legal terminology, legal process, ethics, written communications, pleadings, discovery, time management, records management, legal research, memoranda preparation, filing procedures and citation format.
Diploma programs are more intensive than certificate programs. There may be some general education electives offered, such as Spanish, composition, public speaking and psychology. In addition to the themes listed about, diploma program core requirements may include classes such as society and law, technical writing, word processing applications, civil litigation, legal transcription, legal office procedures, ethics, accounting, legal writing and legal research.
Am I Certified When I Graduate?
Certification is a voluntary action that can enhance your employment and advancement possibilities. Having earned a diploma or certificate upon graduation form a legal secretary program does not mean that you are certified. As a graduate, you are qualified to sit for the basic certification examination, administered by the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS). Passing a 3-part examination will earn you designation as an Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS), which is the basic certification for legal professionals. Certification lasts for five years and is renewable yearly thereafter, with the fulfillment of certain continuing education requirements.
The designation Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) is the next step up the ladder in certification. After three years of experience in the legal field, you qualify to sit for the 4-part exam. You can get a waiver for one year's experience if you've earned a postsecondary degree or hold the ALS designation. Certification is renewable every five years upon completion of a certain number of continuing education units.
With a minimum of five years of legal work experience, you may qualify to sit for a specialization examination, administered by Legal Secretaries International (LSI), to become a Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS). An experience waiver of two years is granted for those with an associate's degree or ALS certification; the waiver is three years for those with a bachelor's degree or PLS certification.
You can register to take one or more of the certification examinations that are administered at the annual meetings of LSI. Certification areas are business law, civil litigation, criminal law, intellectual property, probate and real estate. You can seek further information on recertification requirements by contacting LSI.
Legal secretary diploma and certificate programs can be enrolled in and earned online, with diploma programs being slightly more comprehensive than certificate programs. For those looking for an undergraduate degree, associate's degrees in the field can also be earned online, which can provide even further education and career training.