The legal profession may be driven by lawyers, but these professionals are far from the only ones employed in this field. Attorneys need a dedicated staff of assistants behind them to help them with the essential tasks that they have to do. If you're interested in law, but don't want to invest the time and money in an advanced law degree, you can get started quickly and easily with a job as a legal secretary.
A legal secretary is an administrative professional who works closely with lawyers. Legal secretaries handle routine clerical tasks and assist the lawyers in their company, office, or organization with research, filing, and other projects. Though you don't need a law degree or in-depth knowledge of the legal profession for this job, it is important for legal secretaries to understand basic legal terminology. They're also responsible for maintaining client confidentiality and will be held to the highest legal and ethical standards in this area.
Legal secretaries often find themselves in high pressure situations. They may face tight deadlines and have large projects to handle quickly. If you work well under pressure and enjoy the thrill of digging through details and organizing a complex collection of information, this job may offer just what you're after.
Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has not gathered information specific to legal secretaries, they do have an extensive collection of data on similar professions that will give you a well-rounded look into the job prospects in this area.
According to the BLS, job opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants are expected to increase 15 percent over the 2016 to 2026 decade. This is much higher than the national average of just 7 percent for all occupations. Employment for legal support workers, which may include legal secretaries and those in similar occupations, has a projected job growth of 11 percent for the same period.
Law firms are increasingly working to lower their expenses while increasing efficiency. Legal secretaries help do just that. For this reason, the job outlook is strong for legal assistants, legal secretaries, and others in this field.
Legal secretaries typically work in law offices. They're usually on a team working alongside paralegals, attorneys, and other support staff. In some instances, legal secretaries may find themselves working for a large corporation or other organization that maintains its own in-house legal team. In this situation, the scope of their cases and research may be more specialized than what one would find in a law office.
Legal secretaries tend to work in an office environment, spending most of their day at a desk. However, they may travel to the courtroom and other offices if needed to accompany an attorney or deliver important paperwork. Legal secretaries may also have to leave the office to perform research for certain cases.
Though this can be a traditional nine-to-five job for many professionals, legal secretaries are often expected to stay late or put in extra hours as needed if the office is handling a big case.
Most employers require an associate degree or two to three years of relative experience in the legal field. However, you can also pursue some type of continuing education to make sure you have the knowledge necessary to successfully keep up with the fast pace and specialized demands in this industry. An associate degree in paralegal studies will equip you with the knowledge and background that you need to become a legal secretary.
The paralegal studies associate degree program from Bryant & Stratton College includes 39 credit hours (out of 60) of major requirements. These courses cover contract law, civil litigation, legal research and writing, office technology software, computing skills, and law office management and technology. This provides students with a well-rounded background that covers basic secretarial tasks as well as specialized legal topics.
Though certification is not required for a position as a legal secretary, it can improve your job prospects. You may want to consider certification such as the Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) or Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) from the National Associations for Legal Secretaries (NALS.) You can also obtain the Certified Legal Secretary Specialist credential from Legal Secretaries International. These certifications will demonstrate your dedication to this career field as well as your aptitude for key tasks in this area.
The AAS paralegal studies degree program does not lead to a professional certification. External study and testing is required to obtain professional certifications. Bryant & Stratton College’s programs are education programs and the college makes no representations regarding whether a program will qualify a graduate for employment in any specific position, is necessary for attaining any such position, or whether potential employers may require additional training, certification or education. Before enrolling in a program, applicants are encouraged to consult with any relevant agency or employer with which he/she may wish to seek employment for a complete list of position requirements and pre-requisites
A legal office assistant diploma will prepare you for a variety of jobs in the legal profession. Some of the job titles that you may want to watch for in your job search include:
Watch for administrative positions in law offices and the legal department of large corporations in your area. Your associate degree in paralegal studies will equip you for a variety of entry-level positions assisting lawyers with their critical everyday tasks.
Please note that information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is intended to provide a general outlook only. This is not a guarantee of job opportunities, but rather a means to gain statistical insights into this career field. For more information on legal office assistant positions, visit the paralegal section of our blog. You'll find additional career insights to help guide you in your future within the legal field.