Legal Secretary Frequently Asked Questions

Program Information

I do not have secretarial skills; can I apply for legal secretary program?
Yes, but the program does not provide training in the traditional secretarial skills. The program is designed to provide currently employed secretaries or clerical workers with specialized office training in the legal environment.

I am a legal secretary; should I pursue the legal secretary certificate or the paralegal program?
Most students, even current secretaries, opt for the paralegal program since the secretary program’s LAW courses are part of the paralegal program with the exception of the cooperative legal secretary education (LAW 293S) course. Students in the paralegal program may complete the legal secretary program and obtain the certificate. Being a paralegal gives the student more job options.

How long will it take to complete the legal secretary certificate?
It depends on the number of credits taken each semester and if awarded law related transfer credits from previous colleges. Minimally, three semesters will be required due to course requirements. Specifically, LAW 111 Litigation must be completed before taking LAW 148 Legal Document Preparation and LAW 148 is one of the courses that must be completed before taking LAW 293S Cooperative Legal Secretary Education. Please remember one 3-credit course is like working 10 hours a week so plan accordingly.

Upon completion of course work can I sit for an industry certification exam?
It depends if you have the necessary credentials required for certification. Legal secretary certifications are awarded by professional associations and have specific course and/or experience requirements. Visit NALS, Association for Legal Professionals [LINK to: http://www.nals.org] to learn more about the Professional Legal Secretary certification.

Who do I talk with if I have more questions about the legal secretary certificate?
Contact an advisor or the paralegal program coordinator.

Courses and Credits

Can I receive academic credits for work experience? I worked in the legal field for several years.
It depends, contact the paralegal program coordinator to learn how your work experience might apply to the legal secretary course requirements.

Can the legal secretary certificate be completed online?
No, not all required courses are offered online.

Are paralegal courses (LAW) offered during the summer?
Selected LAW courses are normally offered during the summer. The Class Availability site lists summer session courses.

Can I take the required legal secretary courses (LAW) at another University of Hawai`i community college?
No, the LAW courses are specific to Kapi`olani Community College.

Cooperative Education (Internship)

What is LAW 293S Cooperative Legal Secretary Education?
The cooperative education class is a required course for the legal secretary certificate. The course integrates classroom learning with supervised practical work experience as a legal secretary and provides the student with the opportunity to build upon, apply, and assess the concepts developed through course work in the legal environment.

I already work in the legal environment. Do I still have to take the cooperative education class?
Yes, the class is required for the legal secretary certificate. Students currently employed in a legal secretary related position may be able to use the current place of employment for cooperative education. Contact the paralegal program coordinator to learn how your current position may be applicable.

Tell me more about the LAW 293S Cooperative Legal Secretary Education requirement.
The class meets approximately one hour per week and requires 144 hours of work in the legal environment. Students are responsible for securing their own cooperative education positions. Employers with cooperative education positions often contact the instructor to solicit resumes and interview students. If a student cannot secure a cooperative education position, the instructor will take reasonable efforts to find a position for the student. Students working full-time have found creative ways to meet this requirement by taking time off work or doing the cooperative education work on the weekends and evenings. Individual circumstances should be discussed with the instructor. More information is available at the LAW293S course description page.

Graduation and Transfer

I finished the legal secretary certificate and want to pursue the paralegal associate in science (AS) degree. Do the legal secretary program courses apply to the paralegal program?
Yes, all of the legal secretary courses apply to the paralegal program with the exception of LAW 293S Cooperative Legal Secretary Education which is specific to the legal secretary certificate.

Are there legal secretary organizations that students and graduates may join?
Yes, students and graduates are encouraged to join NALS, Association for Legal Professionals.

Do you have job placement services for students?
No, unfortunately the campus does not have job placement services. Students and graduates may use the University of Hawai`i Student Employment and Cooperative Education (SECE) and the State of Hawai`i HireNet-Hawai`i free services to seek employment. Many professional organizations have job placement as a membership benefit.

How much can I earn in the legal field?
The amount you can earn in the legal field depends on many factors including but not limited to job requirements, education, experience, job location, etc. Visit O*NET OnLine to learn more.