If you find the field of law fascinating but are not interested in being a lawyer, there are other career paths you can take. One such path is to become a legal secretary. Legal secretaries handle many of the same kinds of tasks as regular secretaries, such as answering phones, preparing correspondence and bills, filing and setting up client appointments. However, they may also be expected to assist in legal research, help prepare legal briefs and file legal documents.
There are no hard and fast rules about the educational requirements for becoming a legal secretary. Some people become legal secretaries with just a high school diploma. Others attend secretarial school, either online or at a traditional institution. However, because of the complexity and responsibility involved in being a legal secretary, formal training is recommended. While a legal degree is not required, training as a secretary, with emphasis in the legal area, is quite helpful. In addition to the regular secretarial skills of keyboarding, word processing and office practices, legal secretary students learn legal terminology and other aspects of the legal profession.
Many community colleges offer training for legal secretaries. They may offer a two-year associate's degree, or a certificate program that takes one or two semesters to complete. Some of the classes are even available online at some schools, saving you the hassle and cost of commuting. Business and secretarial schools also offer similar training. Some institutions offer legal secretary training entirely online, or by correspondence courses.. If you decide to try one of those non-traditional routes, make sure that the institution is accredited, and that you will earn valid credentials. Once you complete your training, it is highly advisable that you obtain certification as a legal secretary. After you have one year of experience as a legal secretary, you can take an exam which will certify you as an Accredited Legal Secretary (ALS) once you pass it. With additional experience, you can earn other certifications from the National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS) and Legal Secretaries International. These additional certifications are valuable, since they let potential employers know that you have advanced skills. That will make it much easier for you to get a job.