Legal Administration Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Course Info

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What jobs can you get with an associate or bachelor's degree in legal administration? Get the facts about requirements, online options, courses and training programs.
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Associate and Bachelor's Degree in Legal Administration at a Glance

Undergraduate degree programs in legal administration are usually offered either as a degree in legal administration or office administration with a legal concentration. Legal administrators oversee the business operations of law offices or legal departments within companies and government agencies. They are responsible for the office's smooth operation, technology and personnel. The job requires knowledge of legal procedures and terminology, record keeping, document preparation and filing. Because many legal administrators also perform secretarial and bookkeeping functions it may also require extensive data entry and typing duties. Legal administrators also oversee office staff.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth for legal secretaries and administrative assistants to grow 4% during 2010 through 2020, which is slower than average (www.bls.gov). This projected job growth is slower than that projected for office administrators in other fields.

Associate Bachelor
Who Is This Degree For? Individuals looking for an entry-level position as a legal office administrator or who want to transfer earned credits to a bachelor's degree program Individuals looking for a job as an office manager or supervisor in a legal office or legal department
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual median salary) - Legal secretary ($44,000)*
- Paralegal or legal assistant ($50,000)*
- Legal records clerk ($32,000)**
- Office manager ($59,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years full time 4 years full time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 6-8 general education courses
- Roughly 7-9 courses in legal administration
- Roughly 15-23 general education courses
- Roughly 15-23 courses in legal administration
- Internship
Prerequisites - High school diploma or GED
- Minimum required ACT or SAT score
- Assessment testing (usually administered by college)
- High school diploma or GED
- Minimum required ACT or SAT score
Online Availability No No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures); **Salary.com (2011 figures)

Associate Degree in Legal Administration

An associate degree program in legal administration introduces you to legal terminology, procedures and practices. The office administration courses in this program are placed within a legal context pertinent to the operations of law offices and legal departments in both the public and private sectors. The courses are designed to teach you about the technology used in this profession, including computers and software, as well as the record keeping and bookkeeping skills required to maintain an efficient-running law office. This program could also prepare you to perform secretarial, receptionist and general office management duties.

Pros and Cons of an Associate Degree in Legal Administration

Pros

  • Can provide you with the skills required to obtain an entry-level position with a small law firm
  • Allows you to become a competitive legal administrator job applicant after completing only two years of study
  • Credits may transfer to a four-year college

Cons

  • Even with the degree you may be competing for the same job against high school graduates who have computer and office skills*
  • Program may not prepare you to manage a large law office or legal department, requiring you to gain some work experience before you are qualified for advancement
  • Many employers prefer applicants who have some experience working in a law firm*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

In addition to general education courses, your classes feature legal education as it relates to running a law office, including legal terminology and procedures. As a legal administrator, you may be responsible for managing personnel and accounting in addition to managing the clerical duties associated with a busy law office. Because of this, you may complete courses designed to teach you about basic bookkeeping and human resources. Courses also focus on the technology commonly used by courts and law offices, including electronic filing of legal pleadings. An important part of any law office is effectively managing client files and preparing correspondence, and your coursework will cover this aspect of the profession as well. Courses generally cover:

  • Writing, grammar and office communications
  • Keyboarding and computer skills
  • Legal office technology: computers, electronic filing, word processing and spreadsheets
  • Record keeping and document management
  • Legal terminology, research, principles and procedures

Online Course Info

Online associate degree programs are difficult to find. If you are considering attending an online program, ensure that it is accredited and that it offers training in the same skill set as the programs offered on college campuses.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Technology plays a large part of a law office's daily business. Therefore, you may want to choose elective courses that provide training in the latest computer, software and communications technology used in law offices and legal departments. For example, many law offices use WordPerfect rather than Microsoft Word, and you may want to become proficient in that word processing software in addition to becoming proficient in using Word.

Degree Alternatives

This program is not designed to prepare you to be a paralegal. However, there are associate degree paralegal programs available at many colleges as well as online. A paralegal's duties are different from those of an office administrator. In general, a paralegal conducts legal research and drafts of legal documents under the supervision of an attorney. The BLS projects that paralegal jobs will increase % between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than legal administration jobs.

Bachelor's Degree in Legal Administration

This degree program provides in-depth education in general office administration skills as well as specialized training in law, legal procedures and the record keeping requirements associated with law offices and legal departments. Your courses are designed to make you proficient in the technology used by most law offices and legal departments. In addition to office management training, you learn about personnel management. Many schools offer this training as a specialization in a general office management degree program, or you may find it as part of a school's legal studies program.

Pros and Cons of a Bachelor's Degree in Legal Administration

Pros

  • Can prepare you to manage a large law office or legal department
  • More employers are looking for candidates with a bachelor degree who can execute more complex job duties*
  • Training in legal office procedures may give you a competitive edge for law office jobs, compared to applicants who have a bachelor's degree in general office administration*

Cons

  • Some employers do not require a bachelor degree for this position, so you will be competing against job applicants with associate degrees or who have on-the-job experience
  • Job growth in this field is slower than average, increasing job competition for limited positions
  • This is a baccalaureate program of limited availability, and you may have to custom-design an office administration program to include a minor in legal studies

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Courses related to your major in this program may include a variety of law classes, as well as legal procedures and terminology. You may be required to take courses in computers and in a variety of software programs used by lawyers and law offices in their daily operations. Courses in office administration and management feature heavily in this program, along with keyboarding and record-keeping classes. Curriculum requirements generally include:

  • Keyboarding
  • English grammar and composition
  • Accounting
  • Computer applications, word processing, spreadsheets and desktop publishing
  • Legal terminology and principles
  • Law and legal issues
  • Office procedures, administration and management
  • Record keeping
  • Internship or practicum

Online Course Info

Online availability of this program is very limited. Be sure to verify that the online program you are considering is accredited and provides instruction in that same skill set as on-campus programs.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Law offices engage in a large amount of electronic document processing, including when filing electronic documents with courts and when conducting discovery. You can stand out against your competition by becoming proficient in the procedures, technology and software used to generate, store, collect and prepare electronic documents for court proceedings and conduct basic record keeping in a law office or legal department. Whether you are involved in the actual handling of these document or simply overseeing their management as part of your administrative duties, your proficiency in this area will give you a competitive edge with employers.

How Continuing Education Can Help You Stand Out

Colleges offer continuing education courses in many subjects, including office management and technology, which are designed to keep professionals up-to-date on the skills needed to remain competitive in their jobs. Additionally, many local and state bar associations offer Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses available to non-lawyers that address the functions of a law office, including electronic filing and e-discovery requirements. As a legal office administrator, you will need to maintain your proficiency in a variety of legal procedural requirements to insure that your law office or legal department's procedures and actions conform to court requirements.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Legal Support and Services
      • BS in Legal Support and Services - Paralegal
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice, B.S.
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Criminal Justice
      • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Criminal Justice
  • Philadelphia, PA

    University of Pennsylvania

  • Syracuse, NY

    Syracuse University

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • BS in Legal Support and Services
  • BS in Legal Support and Services - Paralegal
  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice

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Colorado Christian University

  • Criminal Justice, B.S.

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Criminal Justice
  • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice

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Central Christian College of Kansas

  • BS in Criminal Justice

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