Legal Office Management Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course info

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What will you learn in a legal office management degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Legal Office Management: Degrees at a Glance

Legal office managers are knowledgeable about legal procedures and terminology in order to run an efficient office and disseminate the appropriate legal information to co-workers. Managers also supervise clerical and administrative workers, oversee daily operations, order supplies and make sure that the office equipment is operating correctly.

The education needed to become a legal office manager varies by employer. For example, employers may seek individuals with a legal background and entry-level office management experience, while others may look for candidates with significant human resources or office management experience.

In smaller firms, the legal secretary or legal assistant may take on the role of an office manager. An associate's degree is suitable for entry-level office administration positions, while a bachelor's degree in legal office management may lead to a position overseeing a larger firm or handling multiple offices.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking an entry-level legal office management position Those with experience in office management seeking advancement in the field
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - First-line supervisor of office and administrative support workers ($52,000)*
- Legal assistant ($50,000)*
- Legal secretary ($44,000)*
- Administrative services manager ($87,000)*
- Human resources manager ($109,000)*
- Human resources specialist ($59,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None beyond the associate's degree required coursework Internship
Prerequisites None None
Online Availability Some programs might be available online Not at this time

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

Associate's in Legal Office Management

Legal office management associate's degree programs focus on the leadership and business skills needed in legal environments. These multidisciplinary programs explore office management, business relations and basic legal knowledge. Depending on the program, you may be exposed to advanced legal topics, such as conflict management, legal writing and negotiation. Emphasis is placed on computer literacy and the skills needed for managing day-to-day operations. You'll often find legal office studies as a concentration in a general office management degree program, but some schools offer legal office management programs independently.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may be able to gain enough legal knowledge to transition to other legal careers, such as legal secretaries or paralegals
  • Most programs incorporate computer classes, which are important in managing and transmitting information in a legal office
  • Some office management degree programs require a foreign language as part of their general education classes, which may strengthen your job opportunities

Cons

  • Large law firms may seek candidates with several years of related work experience, along with a bachelor's degree
  • Employment growth for legal secretaries was estimated to be slow (4%) from 2010 to 2010*
  • Many office management positions require a high school diploma, so earning a degree may not be necessary

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

While these programs cover office procedures and information management, other useful topics include the use of various computer programs and constructing business correspondence. General education courses may include psychology, composition, keyboarding and business speaking skills. To expand your legal knowledge, you should look for associate's degree programs that incorporate topics such as legal research, paralegal studies, document processing and legal issues. The following are a few common classes found in these degree programs:

  • Legal terminology
  • Business communications
  • Legal office procedures
  • Word processing
  • Business presentations
  • Spreadsheets

Online Degree Options

Distance learning options for legal office management associate's degree programs are limited. You would need to complete your studies on campus to enter this career. There are general office management associate's degree programs available online, but you wouldn't gain the legal information necessary to perform as a manager of a law office, because the subject matter wouldn't be available.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

A legal office relies on accessing information quickly through digital means. One way to stand out as a manager in a legal office is to strengthen your computer skills. Most office management programs include computer classes covering Microsoft Word, Access, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Certification in these software programs may be available through these associate's degree programs. The accounting program QuickBooks would be useful for you to learn as a legal office manager so that you could effectively categorize billing according to clients.

Other Degrees to Consider

While legal assistants and paralegals have vast legal knowledge, in smaller law firms they may be responsible for administrative tasks. Another training option to consider is a legal assistant/paralegal associate's degree program. These programs are plentiful and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an 18% growth in employment for paralegals and legal assistants from 2010 to 2010. These programs cover some of the same content as legal office management degree programs, including business communications, law fundamentals and legal research. Some paralegal programs are offered fully online through accredited colleges.

Bachelor's in Legal Office Management

If you'd like to learn more about business, but also prepare for other supervisory roles, you could learn a lot at this degree level. However, finding a bachelor's degree program specifically in legal office management will be difficult, but a major in office administration may offer legal courses as electives. Bachelor's degree programs address many of the same topics as associate's degree programs, but include more general education requirements. A person with a bachelor's degree in office administration may be more involved in the daily operations of an office rather than performing legal tasks. Therefore, the curriculum typically includes content applicable to supervisors, such as financial planning and management of facilities.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may be able to pursue roles in human resources or business management for a large office
  • Will expand your knowledge of accounting and computer technology, which are frequently used in office management
  • You may gain skills in desktop publishing, web design and marketing

Cons

  • Your career opportunities may be limited to office administration positions
  • The average office management position typically seeks candidates with experience not just a degree
  • Legal office management programs at these degree levels aren't common
  • You may be competing for office management jobs against applicants with less education and previous experience

Courses and Requirements

Legal office management programs that are available can address topics like legal ethics, legal research and law office management fundamentals. You could learn about docket management software, client trust accounts and timekeeping. Bachelor's degree programs in office administration emphasize knowing office procedures, how to use various office programs and the importance of document processing. You'll likely complete keyboarding classes, as well as courses in financial accounting, economics and basic workplace communication skills. You may take the following courses in your bachelor's degree studies:

  • Project management
  • Marketing
  • Financial management
  • Office technology

Online Degree Options

Online legal office management programs don't currently exist and office administration bachelor's degree programs are rarely an option through distance learning. Office administration programs that are available offer the same content as campus-based programs. To gain the training needed to become a legal office manager, your most viable option is to locate a college or university and complete a campus-based program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Like associate's degree candidates, one way to set yourself apart is to improve your computer skills. Some office administration programs cover law office technology and computer operation systems, but advanced coursework, such as multimedia and web design, may allow you to gain specialized knowledge. Employers typically look for office managers who are able to multitask, communicate with various individuals and work well under pressure. One way to evaluate your business skills while earning your bachelor's degree is to complete a program's internship. These field experiences typically require professional business attire and work in actual offices.

Other Degrees to Consider

Similar to the availability of associate's degree programs in legal office management, bachelor's degree options are limited. However, paralegal studies programs at these levels can prepare you to manage an office and operate in a legal support capacity. Employers looking for legal office managers may also look for applicants with a bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration. Both of these options provide for a wider scope of career opportunities. Some business administration programs offer office management or legal studies as concentrations.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    3. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Marysville, CA

    Yuba College

  • Yakima, WA

    Yakima Valley Community College

  • Walla Walla, WA

    Walla Walla Community College

  • Rio Grande, OH

    University of Rio Grande

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Lima, OH

    University of Northwestern Ohio

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Indiana Wesleyan University

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

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Are you a US citizen?

Yuba College

Yakima Valley Community College

Walla Walla Community College

University of Rio Grande