Legal Secretaries


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Because a legal secretary must be able to communicate the attorney's ideas in written and oral form, it's important to get a firm grounding in English (especially writing), spelling, typing, and public speaking. Computers are used in most law offices, so be sure to gain computer experience while in high school. Government and political science courses will get you started on the road to legal knowledge as well. Classes that give you experience with research are also important.

Postsecondary Training

Many legal secretaries get their training through established one- or two-year legal secretary programs. These programs are available at most business, vocational, and junior colleges. You could also obtain a four-year degree to get a more well-rounded education. Courses taken should focus on specific skills and knowledge needed by a legal secretary, such as computers, keyboarding, English, legal writing, editing, researching, and communication. NALS…the association for legal professionals also offers basic and advanced legal secretary training courses. 

As businesses continue to expand worldwide, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with bachelor's degrees and professional certifications.

Other Education or Training

NALS...the association for legal professionals offers the NALS Virtual Legal Training Course, which serves as introduction to the legal support profession. The online course also is useful to those who are preparing for the Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) Exam. For more information, visit NALS also offers a variety of continuing legal education opportunities, including webinars, educational events, and conferences. Contact the organization for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

For those just getting started as legal secretaries, NALS…the association for legal professionals offers Accredited Legal Professional (ALP) certification. With at least three years of legal work experience, secretaries can pursue the organization's Professional Legal Secretary (PLS) and/or Certified Legal Professional (CLP) credentials. Finally, those aspiring to become paralegals or legal assistants can earn Professional Paralegal (PP) certification, which requires five years of related work experience or graduation from an ABA-approved paralegal studies or legal studies program. To learn more, visit

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No experience is needed, but those with experience are more likely to land jobs, earn higher pay, and get promoted.

To be employed as a legal secretary, you must learn a great deal of legal terminology and court structures and practices. Whether through study or experience, you must be able to grasp the inner workings of the law. You must also be able to quickly learn computer programs, especially word processing, database, spreadsheet, and presentation programs such as PowerPoint, and be able to use them skillfully. The ability to prioritize and balance different tasks is also necessary for the job. Legal secretaries must be organized, resourceful, and focused to handle their varying responsibilities. They should also be good communicators and have excellent grammar and composition skills.

Legal Secretaries International says that large law firms usually require legal secretaries to be able to type 65 to 80 words per minute (WPM) and government entry-level jobs will often accept legal secretaries who can type 45 to 50 WPM.