Credentialing in the paralegal profession is still a fairly new idea, and one that can be implemented by numerous organizations. While no single paralegal certification is universally recognized as the best (though the National Association of Legal Assistants’, or NALA, is the most prominent), they do provide a means by which an employer can ascertain an employee’s potential viability based on their knowledge and capability.
Almost any organization that trains paralegals or legal assistants offers some credentials that the paralegal has achieved a certain level of knowledge in their field (especially with that credential takes the form of an associates or bachelors degree).
Where the acquiring of credentials become beneficial is when the prospective paralegal has no actual degree in the field, then passing a certification exam can become vital to establishing to an employer that the applicant has a certain degree of knowledge in the field.
While certification exams or means of credentialing may vary, they can generally be held to adhere to a certain level of content, with many requiring some kind of preexisting proof of having made it through an accredited paralegal training program.
Commonly these will then be combined with a comprehensive testing of basic legal knowledge that a paralegal will be required to call on during the course of their work. nearly all certification exams is a comprehensive overview of ethical protocols that are required by any participant in the legal profession, especially as it comes to issues of disclosure and conflicts of interest.
It is important to note, however, that since paralegals are often unregulated and unlicensed, that certification is not required, and paralegals are hired on other merits and trained on the job without any prior experience in the paralegal profession.
Occasionally, higher end paralegal positions will ask for some form of credentials or certification based on the more precise needs of the job, but it is fairly rare that they will specialize a particular form of certification.