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Celebrating the California Certified Legal Secretary program

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Being a California Certified Legal Secretary has helped me in my career, especially when I had to change jobs. After being in construction defect litigation for more than 25 years, I moved into the intellectual property field with absolutely no experience in IP. Being a CCLS, the firm knew I could research and retain the required information in my new field.

Why you should commit to other legal fields when you only do civil litigation or family law? The benefits are enormous; having general knowledge in administration, real estate, probate and corporate -- even if you don't utilize it on a daily basis -- will give you a distinct advantage throughout your legal career.

Take a minute to look into this program and San Diego's study group. Contact Ann Posthill, CCLS, at aposthill@stutzartiano.com. If you have two years' full-time experience as a legal secretary, or equivalent as approved by the certifying board, you may apply to take the examination. Membership in Legal Secretaries Inc., is not a requirement to sit for the examination.

The examination is given in March and October each year on a Saturday, and locations have been established in the Northern California and Southern California areas.

The exam includes seven sections:

Ability to Communicate Effectively. This section measures the candidate's proficiency in written communication, including grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage and sentence structure.

California Legal Procedures. This section tests the candidate's knowledge of California legal practice and procedure and focuses on the areas of litigation, real estate, probate and estate planning, corporate, and family law.

Skills. In this section of the examination, the candidate reviews instructions and uses her or his knowledge of legal practices and procedures to identify correctly completed assignments in the areas of litigation, real estate, probate and estate planning, corporate and family law.

Legal Computations. This section tests the candidate's knowledge of computations made in a legal office, as well as basic accounting terminology and principles, records and accounts management as used in a law office.

Legal Terminology. This section tests the candidate's knowledge and understanding of the proper forms of legal citation based on the "California Style Manual" and the candidate's knowledge of legal terms.

Law Office Administration. This section tests the candidate's knowledge of records management, office equipment and supplies management, computer technology, office etiquette and personnel management.

Reasoning and Ethics. The reasoning portion of the examination verifies the candidate's ability to evaluate facts and situations logically and to reach rational conclusions; the ethics portion tests the candidate's understanding of accepted professional standards of conduct.

A candidate may pass the examination in two ways: an overall score of 75 percent or better or a score of 70 percent or better on each individual section (retakes allowed if four or more sections passed at one sitting).

Some suggested referenced materials include William A. Sabin, "The Gregg Reference Manual," 10th ed.; Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, "LSI Legal Professional's Handbook," current edition; The Rutter Group, LSI Law Office Procedures Manual," current edition; The Rutter Group, "California Style Manual," "The Legal Assistant's Practical Guide to Professional Responsibility."

All sections utilize the CCLS mock examinations and study kit, Legal Secretaries Inc., www.lsi.org, California Rules of Court, Judicial Council forms, "The Legal Secretary" magazine and legal specialization newsletters, a legal dictionary such as "Black's" or Gifis's "Law Dictionary" by Barron's.

Find out more information by going to sdlsa.org/ccls.php.

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