Legal Secretary Career Diploma Program Details

Penn Foster Career School’s Legal Secretary course consists of courses geared toward helping you gain the knowledge and skills relevant to the field, including Legal Terminology, Legal Research, Legal Writing, and Office Procedures.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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® 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.

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


  • Create, edit, format, and merge Word™ documents.
  • Add graphics and tables.

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.


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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

When you graduate, you'll receive...

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

  • NALS Certification Examination Study Guide

Additional Details

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 in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Legal Secretary Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Legal Secretary course would look like.
Legal Secretary Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you’ll need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 10 or later, Microsoft® Office 2019 or Microsoft 365®, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows 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.
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