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What Skills Are Taught in a Legal Secretary Certificate Program?

A legal secretary certificate program teaches the competencies necessary to gain employment, like legal terminology, document processing software and professional legal correspondence. Continue reading to find out what you can learn in a legal secretary certificate program, including the most important skills for the job.

Legal Secretary Certificate Program Overview

Legal secretary certificate programs may be open to individuals without prior training or for professionals who are already working in the field and wish to learn new skills or stay current with the latest technology. Students may need to have basic computer skills before starting coursework. Many legal secretary certificate programs can be completed in four to six months.

Important Facts About This Program

Online Availability Available as fully or partially online program
Specializations Civil litigation, criminal law, business law, and office administration studies may be available through additional legal studies courses, and certificate or certification programs
Possible Careers Legal secretary, office administrator, paralegal assistant, receptionist, bookkeeper
Continuing Education Professionally certified legal secretaries must obtain continuing education to maintain certification
Median Salary (2018) $46,360 (for legal secretaries)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) -19% (for legal secretaries)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses

Coursework often covers legal processes, legal ethics, composition, legal citation, file management and billing. Students can learn how to use proper formatting, terminology and references to create legal documents, including complaints, summonses, subpoenas, pleadings, motions and responses. Graduates are prepared to get jobs working in an office for a paralegal or a lawyer.

General Skills

A legal secretary's job duties are centered around communication, primarily written communication, so impeccable spelling, grammar and writing mechanics are necessary. Strong interpersonal skills are also important in the legal office work environment. In addition to legal research, legal secretaries may also have more administrative duties, like case management and office management. Below is a list of some essential qualities that can be developed through legal secretary certificate programs:

  • Critical thinking abilities
  • Organization
  • Time management

Computer and Technical Skills

Today's legal office depends heavily on modern technology to run efficiently. Legal secretaries need to be highly literate in several types of software programs. For advanced duties, legal secretaries may receive on-the-job training. Some basic computer skills that are developed in legal secretary training include:

  • Electronic communications
  • Word processing
  • Database management
  • Spreadsheets
  • Presentations

Certification and Advancement

Legal secretaries with professional training or a year of work experience can consider seeking the Accredited Legal Professional credential; with advanced skills, they may qualify for the Professional Legal Secretary certification. Mid-career professionals who have at least 5 years of experience in a specialized legal area, like criminal law or business law, may be eligible to earn the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist credential.

Some legal secretaries eventually obtain additional training and advance in their careers to become paralegals. Individuals who hold a legal secretary certificate may complete a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies.