Legal Secretary Online Course | Penn Foster Career School

Online Legal Secretary Courses

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Penn Foster Career School’s Online Legal Secretary Career Diploma Program will help you prepare to perform legal office duties, and you can complete the program in as little as six months! You will learn everything from preparing legal paperwork and filing court documents to office finances and management. Your online course lessons include practical exercises that will help you master the skills you’re learning. Students also receive a one-year membership in NALS, the association for legal professionals, and study guides to prepare for the NALS certification exam.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students for an entry level position as a legal secretary.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Understand the legal secretary job requirements, career opportunities, and the various persons who are part of the law office structure and explain their duties
  • Identify strategies for developing and enhancing your professional image
  • Comprehend the best ways to handle office equipment, the proper handling of incoming and outgoing mail and email, how to arrange meetings and business travel, and the keys to effective time management
  • Identify procedures for handling active, inactive, and permanent files, including the use of an electronic filing system
  • Recognize major information technologies used in the workplace, including computers and communications
  • Understand how to use reference materials, including dictionaries, the Internet, and libraries, to find information
  • Understand how to set up a computer system, navigate in the Windows environment, locate files, create documents
  • Identify the various kinds of documents used in litigation and the basic process of litigation in federal and state court systems
  • Identify common legal terms and their meaning
  • Comprehend the purpose of formal ethical guidelines for lawyers and how these guidelines apply to legal secretaries; discuss client confidentiality and conflicts of interest
  • Understand the levels of authority in American law, references used to find relevant information for research, and where to look to find the most recent law decisions.
  • Recognize and prepare effective office correspondence and a variety of the documents commonly used in legal offices using the correct format
  • Create, edit, format, and add graphics and tables to Word documents
  • Create Excel spreadsheets, using simple and complex formulas and functions, incorporate useful charts and graphs, and lay out table data
  • Comprehend office management issues, including dealing with employees, office finances, and teamwork

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
The Legal Secretary

In this lesson, you’ll get a brief introduction to many duties of the legal secretary.


  • Understand the roles and duties of law office staff.
  • Describe some of the personal qualities and skills necessary for a legal secretary.
  • Explain the procedure for becoming NALS certified.
  • Set up a business letter and an interoffice memo.
  • Outline rules for typing legal documents.

Unit 2

Your Professional Image

The image that you project plays a critical role in developing your career. This lesson focuses on what it takes for you to develop and improve your professional image.


  • Identify strategies for developing and enhancing your professional image.
  • Identify resources to assist you in developing and maintaining a professional image.
  • Evaluate your professional image.
  • Write goals and action plans to improve your professional image.
Stress and Time Management

This lesson teaches you how to apply stress-reducing techniques to a tense situation.


  • Identify common stressors and symptoms of stress.
  • Discuss effective stress management coping strategies.
  • Set goals and determine priorities.
  • Establish efficient, effective daily routines.

Unit 3

Interpersonal Communication Skills

This lesson is designed to help you develop professional relationships in the workplace.


  • Understand and explain the components of communication, both verbal and nonverbal.
  • Develop effective listening and observation skills.
  • Recognize prejudice in interpersonal relations.
  • Describe personal traits essential for successful interpersonal relations.
Administrative Office Procedures

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to professionally administer and manage office communications and procedures.


  • Understand important aspects of good human relations.
  • Professionally answer and place telephone calls within an office.
  • Handle incoming and outgoing mail and email.
  • Analyze where your time is spent and identify common time wasters.
Travel and Meeting Planning

This lesson covers your role in making travel arrangements, and planning meetings and conventions.


  • Make travel arrangements and generate a travel itinerary.
  • Plan meetings and conventions for your company.

Unit 4

Filing Techniques

In this lesson you’ll learn how to set up, arrange, and maintain a filing system suitable for whatever type of office you’re working in.


  • Group files alphabetically, geographically, numerically, and by subject.
  • Establish and maintain a paper-based and electronic filing system.
  • Identify procedures for handling active, inactive, and permanent files.
Records Management

In this lesson, you’ll learn what a record is in an office environment and how records are managed.


  • Store, track, classify, and retrieve records.
  • Differentiate between centralized and decentralized files.
  • Define and differentiate various types of micrographics.
Math for the Office Professional

This lesson is a review of basic math operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.


  • Calculate discounts and series discounts.
  • Calculate shipping charges.
  • Use a calculator to solve or check math problems.

Unit 5

Technologies in the Workplace

New ways of creating, processing, and communicating information are revolutionizing every aspect of any job. To perform your job effectively and efficiently, you must learn about the technology that’s available in the computerized workplace.


  • Describe major communication technologies and services.
  • Understand the network systems used to communicate information.
  • Navigate office computer systems and identify components used for input and output.
Resources and References

This lesson is designed to teach you how to use resources and references to search for information efficiently and effectively.


  • Compare and contrast various resources available within your organization.
  • Use a dictionary and thesaurus to find information and improve your vocabulary.
  • Find information in libraries and online references.

Unit 6

Introduction to Writing

This lesson deals with basic writing skills and grammar. You’ll look at the process of writing, as well as the parts of speech and how to use them.


  • Know the parts of speech.
  • Use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Develop sentences and paragraphs.
  • Improve your writing.
Using the Parts of Speech

In this lesson, you’ll work on polishing your writing so letters and documents look professional and communicate clearly.


  • Use pronouns and modifiers properly and effectively.
  • Use consistent sentence construction.
  • Explain subject-verb agreement.
Punctuation and Capitalization

In this lesson, you’ll cover various types of punctuation, rules for capitalization and spelling, and documentation of sources when doing research. While you may already know some of these standard principles, it’s important that you carefully review each topic.


  • Use end marks, commas, and other common punctuation marks.
  • Use capitalization correctly.
  • Explain common spelling rules and use them in your writing.
  • Cite research sources.
Writing Sentences and Paragraphs

By expressing yourself with correct grammar, organizing your ideas, and focusing on the topic, your writing will become more effective and professional.


  • Compose a variety of sentence structures.
  • Construct unified, coherent paragraphs.
  • Connect paragraphs to build a well-organized, logical document.
Improving Your Writing

This lesson is designed to help you make the best use of the writing tools you already have by making them work for you as you plan, develop, revise, and present your work.


  • Identify your audience, medium, and purpose.
  • Focus and organize your ideas.
  • Plan both informal and formal writing projects.
  • Revise, edit, and proofread to make your final copy accurate and professional.
Types of Business Writing

In this lesson, you’ll prepare for the various kinds of writing you’re most likely to use in your career.


  • Write well-structured, professional letters.
  • Format business letters, memos, and emails.
  • Process routine information requests and complete typical office forms.

Unit 7

Microsoft® Excel®

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the most widely used spreadsheet program, Microsoft® Excel.® Excel® can perform numerical calculations and is also useful for non-numerical applications such as creating charts, organizing lists, accessing data, creating graphics and diagrams, and automating tasks.


  • Use the basic elements of Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Add, delete, and sort data.
  • Create and use simple and complex formulas and functions.
  • Incorporate charts and graphs.
Microsoft® PowerPoint®

Microsoft® PowerPoint® is a powerful graphics presentation program for communicating ideas to an audience.


  • Understand the basic elements and fundamentals of Microsoft® PowerPoint.®
  • Apply Slide Master.
  • Insert hyperlinks, illustration objects, and media clips.
  • Work with advanced tools, tables, and charts.
Microsoft® Word™

Learn how to use Microsoft® Word™ to create, edit, and illustrate documents.


  • Create, edit, format, and merge Word™ documents.
  • Add graphics and tables.
Graded Project: Microsoft® Word™

This project gives you a chance to use your Word™ skills. Create four promotional documents for a company’s training event: a cover letter introducing the company, a facts sheet highlighting product features, a flier promoting the event, and a registration form.

Graded Project: Computer Applications

In this project, you’ll use many of the concepts and techniques you’ve learned in your program to practice your skills.

Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Introduction to Keyboarding

Unit 8

Legal Terminology, Part 1

Familiarity with common legal words and phrases is required when creating and interpreting legal documents. This lesson will introduce you to a broad range of basic legal terminology and documents.


  • Define and understand common Latin legal terms and terms associated with litigation.
  • Compare the various kinds of documents used in litigation and types of jurisdiction.
Legal Terminology, Part 2

A solid understanding of the language of law is essential in your career as a legal secretary. This lesson will continue to introduce you to a broad range of legal terminology and documents.


  • Understand criminal procedure and common criminal defenses.
  • Recognize the elements commonly included in contracts.
  • Describe the ways in which contracts may be terminated.
  • Explain the various legal actions associated with family law.
  • Understand the terminology used in recording ownership of real property.
Ethics, Professionalism, and Risk Management

This lesson will prepare you to recognize and avoid the most common ethical problems that lawyers and legal secretaries face. It’s important that you understand both your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the attorney to help you to be a valuable contributor to the success of your employer’s legal services team.


  • Explain the purpose of formal ethical guidelines for lawyers and how these guidelines apply to you as a legal secretary.
  • Describe the interrelationships among ethics, professionalism, and risk management in the practice of law.
  • Identify client confidentiality issues and conflicts of interest.
Additional Unit Materials

Downloadable audio files: Legal Terminology, Parts 1 & 2

Textbook: Law Dictionary for Nonlawyers

Unit 9

Legal Research

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the levels of authority in American law. We’ll also review the many references you’ll use to find relevant information for your research.


  • Define written law and precedent law and understand their importance in the American legal system.
  • Use the library catalog to locate books in a law library.
  • Use Shepard’s Citations to “Shepardize” a case.
Legal Writing

This part of your program will provide you with concrete examples of the kinds of documents you'll create in a legal office and give you actual experience in creating them.


  • Identify the kinds of writing you’ll do in the law office
  • Discuss the importance of precision, purpose, and audience in legal writing, and the need to be aware of ambiguity in language
  • Appreciate the negative effect grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors can have in making an impression on the judge
  • Perform some basic techniques to enhance your writing
  • State and characterize facts to best advance your position
  • Write an effective legal memorandum that formally answers questions of law
  • Construct a memorandum in support of a motion
  • Explain how local rules of court affect the documents you file with that court

Unit 10

Office Finances

In many offices, employees are expected to handle a variety of bookkeeping tasks, such as keeping a record of payments as they arrive, sending out bills to those who owe money, and making bank deposits.


  • Identify an accounts receivable.
  • Settle a bank statement.
  • Complete the entries for a bank deposit.
  • Understand how computers are used in bookkeeping.
Office Management

Most offices require a manager to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.


  • Plan an effective office layout.
  • Recruit, interview, and motivate employees.
  • Identify legal issues in office management.
  • Use effective oral and written communication skills.
NALS Membership

Student Membership in the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALS)

Graduation Gift

When you graduate, you'll receive

(Sent to you when all program requirements and financial obligations have been met.)

  • Handbook for Office Professionals
  • NALS Certification Examination Study Guide

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later, Microsoft® Office 365, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows 7 are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Transfer Credits & Graduate Sooner!

Students can receive advanced academic credit for Business English, Computer Basics, and Microsoft® Office within this program. Learn more about our transfer credit policy.

Sample Lesson

To view a Legal Secretary sample lesson, click here.

Legal Secretary Program Details

In the Penn Foster Career School Legal Secretary online training course you'll cover topics such as:

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Legal Secretary Online Course

Legal secretaries schedule appointments, prepare and file legal documents, and handle office finances and management for attorneys and law firms. Here are a few qualities that effective legal secretaries have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Dependable: Clients and coworkers rely on you to get the job done.
  • Flexible: You are productive despite changes in the office.
  • Affable: You make others feel welcome and relaxed in potentially stressful situations.

After completing my Legal Secretary Program, I received many interviews for legal secretary and the employers were very impressed with my knowledge. I also received three job offers. Enrolling in Penn Foster is the smartest thing you can do. I love Penn Foster, and I'm going to start another program to get an even better career in paralegal studies! I can't wait!

- Jennifer K., Legal Secretary Graduate

Wonderful option to pay as you go. I also went to another online university and obtained my AAS in Criminal Justice degree and ended up with 14k in student loan debt. I got military discounts, Pell grants and Military TA but still was not enough to cover all expenses while I went to school full time. Love the Penn Foster pay as you go plan because it stays off your credit and helps you meet your education goals. I am taking the Legal Secretary Course now and I am paid in full, feels great to owe nothing and get a great education from an accredited school.

- Rachel K., Legal Secretary Student and U.S. Army Veteran

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Learning aids such as the office reference manual and NALS certification exam study guide
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Legal Secretary academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Does Penn Foster Career School’s Legal Secretary Career Diploma Program provide any prep materials for industry certification?

Yes, the program includes a study guide for the NALS certification exam, along with a one-year membership in NALS at no additional cost.

Can I transfer previously earned credits to the Penn Foster Career School Legal Secretary Career Diploma program?

Yes, you may be able to receive advanced academic credit for some courses within the program, which means you can move through your curriculum faster and earn your certificate or diploma sooner. Learn more about Penn Foster Career School's transfer credit policy.

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