In this article:
What is a Legal Administration Degree?
The legal administrative assistant is a vital link in law firms and other legal settings. Education programs in legal administration train students in law office procedures. Coursework includes professional ethics, legal terminology, legal writing and documentation, bookkeeping and records management, client billing, general office software, and industry software applications in the areas of wills and estates, family law, litigation, and corporate law.
Note: Some US states may require licensing or certification for legal administrative assistants. Therefore, it is important that students contact their local state authority before enrolling in a specific program.
Certificate in Legal Administration / Diploma in Legal Administration – Eight to Ten Month Duration
This is the most common credential held by practising legal administrative assistants.
Certificate and diploma programs teach only subjects in the major. They are focused exclusively on the various aspects of legal administration.
Associate Degree in Legal Administration – One to Two Year Duration
A legal administration associate program combines courses in the major with some liberal arts classes in subjects such as English literature and composition, math, and the social sciences.
Despite the differences described above, legal administration courses like the following are at the heart of both of these programs:
• Introduction to Professional Communication – analyzing communication context and audience; determining purpose, message content; visual design and media to create clear and concise workplace messages
• Bookkeeping for the Law Office – basic bookkeeping functions for the legal setting, recording and posting transactions, reconciling bank statements, performing scheduling and payroll functions, distinguishing between general and trust funds
• Introduction to Legal Office Procedures – study and application of procedures and documentation related to a legal office, examination of statute and case law
• Legal Administrative Computer Applications – instruction in the detailed use of file management, PDF, presentation, electronic communications, and spreadsheet software
• Legal Document Preparation and Production – creating and formatting complex legal documents and layouts using document production programs currently utilized in the legal field
• Legal Office Relations and Conflict Resolution –workplace relationships, self-awareness, assertiveness, group dynamics, intercultural communication, stress management, strategies for conflict resolution
• Corporate Law and Procedure – procedures and terminology relating to corporate law, government regulations for business, preparing documentation for incorporation of a company, post-incorporation and annual requirements, changes throughout a company’s life cycle, maintaining and filing appropriate documents in a corporate records book
• Conveyancing – procedures and documentation related to the transfer of real estate; transfer of title of residential properties and strata title; mortgage financing
• Wills and Estates – preparing and processing of wills, codicils (an addition that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one), applications for Letters of Probate and Letters of Administration; correspondence regarding estates and distribution and passing of accounts
• Litigation and Civil Procedure – preparation and processing of civil litigation documents, including application and trial procedures
• Family Law and Procedures – preparation and processing of family law documents including trial procedures and collections procedures from court judgements; legal procedures and documentation related to marriage agreements, separation agreements, division of family assets, defended and undefended divorces; state requirements of divorce law and family law
• Legal Administration Practicum – workplace experience in legal administration
Degrees Similar to Legal Administration
Administrative assisting education programs train students to work in office support roles such as executive assistant, administrative assistant, administrator, administrative services manager, or secretary.
Degree programs in criminal justice teach students about the agencies and processes that governments have created to control crime and punish those who violate laws. At the heart of this training are the five components that make up the criminal justice system: law enforcement, prosecution, defense, courts, and corrections.
Criminology is the study of crime, the human factors and behaviors that make it happen, and its impact on society. Degree programs in the discipline include coursework in: criminal law, psychology of crime, statistical and computer applications in criminal justice, and research methods in criminal justice.
A law degree prepares students to work as lawyers. This, of course, is a natural option for anyone who first considers learning to become a legal administrative assistant.
Paralegal studies prepare students to perform delegated legal work under the supervision of a lawyer or a court. The curriculum covers legal terminology and documentation, legal research, legal record keeping, investigations, court procedures, and applicable technology. Many training programs also incorporate an internship with a private law firm, a corporate legal department, the office of a public defender or attorney general, a government agency, or a legal aid organization.
Skills You'll Learn
Attention to Detail
For legal administrative assistants, attention to detail is paramount. There is no room for error in legal communication and recordkeeping.
Bookkeeping and Scheduling
The legal administrative assistant is typically the chief bookkeeper and scheduler in a law office.
Communication and Teamwork
Legal administrative assistants must frequently interact with supervising attorneys and paralegals, as well as clients. They are an essential liaison in legal work.
Law firms are busy places that rely on accomplished administrators who can juggle multiple tasks.
Litigation and legal transactions generate vast amounts of documents and data. Much of this information must be organized and managed by the law firm’s administrative staff.
Technology / Office Applications
The technology skills required in a legal administrative role are wide-ranging. They include word processing, spreadsheets, telecommunications, databases, and law office and scheduling software.
Clear and concise writing is integral to the legal administration role.
What Can You Do with a Legal Administration Degree?
Employment options for legal administration assistants include:
• Law firms
• Legal departments of corporations and organizations in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors
• State and Federal court systems
• Government agencies and departments
• Correctional facilities
• Financial institutions
• Health services agencies
• Land title offices
• Medical offices
• Real estate firms
These are some of the different titles that legal administrative assistants may hold, depending on their place of employment and their specific responsibilities:
• Legal Administrative Assistant
• Legal Administrator
• Legal Assistant
• Legal Secretary
• Litigation Secretary
• Legal Research Assistant
• Commercial Law Assistant
• Real Estate Secretary
The transferable skills developed in legal administration roles may qualify some in the field for positions like:
• Administrative Assistant (in non-legal settings)
• Data Analyst
• Grant/Proposal Writer
• Insurance Adjuster
• Loan Officer
• Mortgage Processor
• Technical Copywriter
• Victim Advocate
Find out what graduates typically earn.Read more