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How to Become A Legal Secretary

In order to qualify for the position of a legal secretary, you’ll need to get enrolled in a legal secretary program. This program can be usually be completed in one to two years, depending on the institute and the enrollment status of the student. These programs are offered in various community colleges, vocational centers and private career schools. Legal secretary programs are intended to enhance verbal and written communication skills, typing skills and grammar. You’ll also be provided industry specific knowledge which is essential for working effectively in a legal environment. This includes legal language, use of specialized software and equipment. Alternatively you can earn a bachelor degree with minors in legal studies.

 

Examples of types of courses which you can expect to find in a legal program include:

  • Basic Civil Litigation
  • Law Office Environment and Procedures
  • Settlement and Arbitration Procedures
  • Federal and State Court Systems
  • Document Preparation in Family Law, Personal Injury, Real Estate, and Bankruptcy
  • Organizing Client Information

Online Study

Many institutes offer legal programs as a distance learning course. This is a great option if you do not want to leave your current job and wish to enjoy flexibility as far as your study schedule is concerned.

Law Secretary

Law secretaries are commonly known as legal secretaries, and legal assistants. Their main job is to prepare and process documents such as subpoenas, summonses, pretrial agreements, motions, appeals and complaints for lawyers. In order to perform this duty, they may investigate and gather facts. They assist lawyers in the courtroom by taking notes, etc. In addition, they may also perform routine office tasks such as mailing, faxing and delivering of legal documents to clients. They may also make appointments, organize and maintain law libraries on behalf of their employer. 

Legal Secretary Job Description

  • Legal secretaries job requires in-detail (if not extensive) knowledge of legal procedures and terminology.
  • They prepare legal documents. For example, documents such as subpoenas, motions, complaints and summonses are all prepared by legal secretaries under the supervision of an attorney.
  • They help attorneys in conducting legal research. They find legal precedence, make copies of relevant pages from a legal document, check out books from libraries, etc. whatever that helps prepare attorney a case.
  • They may also assist the attorneys inside a courtroom with arranging documents, presenting evidence, etc.

Certifications

Although certifications are not mandatory, a certified legal secretary is deemed more valuable by employers. There are two types of certifications provided by National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS):
  • Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS): This basic certification is appropriate for you if you have one year of legal experience or if you have taken an approved training course.
  • Professional Legal Secretary (PLS): This is an advanced type of certification designed for legal professionals.

Another type of certification is offered by Legal Secretaries International.

  • Certified Legal Secretary Specialist (CLSS): You can earn this certification if you have five years of work experience and have successfully passed an exam. CLSS is offered in areas like business law, criminal law, civil litigation, intellectual property, probate etc.

In order to remain competitive in your field and improve your career pospects, you should be well informed about trends and changing rules and regulations in the legal world. It’ll also be a great idea to consider taking regular legal secretary training and continuing education courses while you are working as a legal secretary.

Employment Outlook

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2012, the hourly and yearly wages for legal secretaries were $21.34 and $44,380 respectively. As a legal secretary, you can be employed by:

  • Law Firms
  • Governments
  • Insurance Companies
  • Legal Support Systems
  • Corporations

Employment growth is expected to go up from 3% to 9% from 2010 to 2020, with 39,400 estimated new job openings (BLS).

 



Questions / Answers

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Q:How to be a legal secretary?

A:In recent years, the demand for legal assistants and secretaries has increased. If you want to work as a legal secretary, you need to get the proper legal training. There are many programs being offered in this field. You can seek employment at a law firm and also acquire on-the-job training. As a secretary, you need to be familiar with legal terminology and procedures.

Q:How to become a legal secretary and acquire training?

A:Legal secretary careers and paralegal careers are on the rise. With a qualification in this field, you can seek work at law firms and help in the administrative tasks. Some law firms also apprenticeship programs. It is expected that you have a thorough understanding of legal terminology and are well versed with the justice system.

Q:I want to know how much school to be a legal secretary is usually required.

A:Usually a college level degree is required to become a legal secretary. Candidates wishing to become a legal secretary are required to get enrolled in a legal secretary program. The program can usually be completed in one or two year's time. These programs can be offered in different types of institutes such as community colleges, vocational centers, and career institutes. The college degree may provide candidates with industry specific knowledge important for working effectively in the legal environment.

Q:I want to know how to train to be a legal secretary.

A:In order to train someone to become a legal secretary, one needs to complete legal secretary degree by enrolling in legal secretary programs. The program is offered by various vocational schools, legal institutes, community colleges, and career centers, candidates are also required to have industry specific knowledge essential for working in a legal environment effectively.

Q:I want to know how to be a good legal secretary.

A:Good legal secretaries may obtain certification in addition to the basic requirements. There are two types of certifications provided by national association of legal secretaries. These include accredited legal secretary and professional legal secretary certifications. Another type of certification includes certified legal secretary specialist. These advanced certifications enhance value of legal professionals.

Q:How to be a legal secretary with no experience?

A:Legal secretary jobs are on the rise and are among the most popular occupations nowadays. For this career, it is important that you have a degree in legal studies or paralegal education. Work experience may be mandatory to get into the field. You can pursue an entry level career initially where you will be able to develop experience as well as legal skills.

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