Certification in the paralegal profession
usually refers to any means by which a paralegal or legal assistant has sought
to establish, through the oversight of a professional organization, that they
have acquired and can exhibit the skills needed to perform the duties
associated with the job of paralegal.
examination, or both.
By this same point,
certification should be seen as means of improving one’s standing
It is simply a means of measuring competence and ability, not a means by
which to qualify for employment.
The most recognized means of certification
recognized in the legal profession is the National Association of Legal
Assistants’ (NALA), though there others, and they each have different
requirements for certification.
The CLA/CP certification requires varying
levels of existing experience and education, typically pertaining to having
completed an NALA, American Bar
Association (ABA), or American Association For Paralegal
Education (AAfPE) accredited paralegal training program.
In the case of an individual having a bachelor’s degree in a field other
than legal assistant/paralegal studies, they must have an additional year of
experience as a paralegal under a lawyer’s supervision.
The Advanced Paralegal
Certification is usually given to experienced paralegals that focus more
specifically on specialized fields of the law, like property, malpractice,
tort, criminal, and so on.
Other certification exams include the American
Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) credential, which is administered by the
American Alliance of Paralegals (AAP). The National Federation of
Paralegal Associations offers the Registered Paralegal credential. Both require
additional course work in order to renew their certification every two years.
Certification can also be extended to
paralegal institutions, as well with AAfPE To be certified with either organization, the
program must meet elevated standards of education quality, not limited to
extensive diversity and depth of studies offered, combined with a substantial
emphasis on ethics, and they must maintain those standards through ongoing
periods of review and renewal every 5-7 years.