To become a court assistant who helps with legal scheduling, communications and data management, a person ideally receives undergraduate training in a legal field, gets at least two years of administrative support experience and, if required, becomes certified in an area applicable to court assisting. What a court requires of applicants is not consistent from area to area, however, so those interested in this type of work should inquire what the current requirements are at their local court. Peripheral training in technology and communications contributes significantly to an applicant's ability to fulfill court assistant duties.
The educational requirements for a person to become a court assistant vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. At a bare minimum, most regions require a candidate to have at least a high school diploma or graduate equivalency degree. Although an undergraduate degree typically is not necessary, courts do prefer applicants who have had additional schooling. Ideally, a person who wants to become a court assistant will have taken courses related to the justice system, with certificates or degrees in legal administration or assisting being especially useful.
The key role of a court assistant is to keep the court operating smoothly and efficiently; his position falls into the administrative support category. Thus, any experience in administrative support is relevant. Supporting a court can be very different than supporting other organizations, however, so if a person is not familiar with court procedures or terminology, she must get additional on-the-job or class training to be qualified for court assisting. Two to four years of experience is the standard expectation, although courts sometimes allow candidates to substitute additional education for experience.
Some courts require that candidates take formal assisting examinations, be certified in court assisting or have a related certification, such as the Certified Paralegal Credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants. These credentials show that the applicant has a fairly thorough understanding of the legal system and what it takes to get through a court case. They also demonstrate that the candidate is comfortable providing, gathering, organizing and analyzing data. Another accepted credential for those who wish to become a court assistant is Notary Public.
A court assistant must understand basic court operations to provide the expected support. They are required to uphold regulations currently in place and to represent their region in a courteous way. Subsequently, courts usually require applicants to be citizens who are of legal adult age. They might need a driver's license or other verification of identification and residency.
Although some court positions are considered back-office, meaning the workers don't interact much with the public, court assisting is a front-office position, meaning the assistant has to work one-on-one with court personnel and anyone who enters the court. Training in communications is desirable, especially because the court assistant also drafts correspondence for the court. Basic speech and writing courses are good choices.
With technology constantly advancing, many courts are moving toward computerized systems and processes to improve efficiency and reduce waste. For example, much of the court's scheduling might be kept in an electronic calendar. Taking technology and computer classes thus is another important way for someone to prepare to become a court assistant.