What is Paralegal Certification?
The paralegal job market is competitive, and if you want to stand out as a more attractive candidate to potential employers, you should consider obtaining paralegal certification. In the legal world, paralegal certification is viewed as an independent, unbiased measurement of your ability as a current or potential paralegal. By obtaining certification, you are proving that you have achieved a nationally standardized level of professional achievement, and that you will be able to provide quality service to future employers.
Benefits of Paralegal Certification
In this competitive job market, how do you prove to possible employers that you are a better paralegal than their other candidates? Get certified. Professional certification means you have are capable of successfully fulfilling all of the functions of a paralegal.
Obtaining a paralegal certification is entirely voluntary. It is not a requirement for most employers. But it is a way for you to garner more respect for yourself as an employee, and for the paralegal profession in general. Plus, you can put the credential on your business card and resume.
The certification is only valid for a period of time. In order to maintain your certification, you must meet pre-determined requirements—usually a set number of continuing education hours. This might seem unnecessary, but it does prove to current and future employers that you are passionate about your career and that you care enough to stay up-to-date in your field.
How to Earn Certification
Different organizations in the U.S. offer certification credentials. They require that applicants pass an exam after meeting a certain set of requirements—typically a mixture of education and experience.
The exam that you will take for most organizations will test your knowledge of a number of subjects relevant the paralegal/legal assistant career, such as:
- Communications (including written communication)
- Legal research
- Analytical ability
- Contracts management/administration
- Trial practice
- Dispute resolution
The U.S. organizations that offer paralegal certification are:
- The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
- The National Association of Legal Secretaries (NALS)
- The American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc.
The American Alliance of Paralegals
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Association of Legal Assistants
The National Association of Legal Secretaries
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations