State Bar Associations That Offer Paralegal Certification
In addition to the four major paralegal certification organizations, there are currently four state bar associations that also offer paralegal certification. If you are planning on working in one of these states, you should consider earning certification from the bar association.
The Florida State Bar Association offers the Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) credential. You can qualify for this credential by meeting one of the following criteria:
- Possess a bachelor's degree from an approved paralegal program and one year of paralegal experience.
- Possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and three years of paralegal experience.
- Possess an associate's degree from an approved paralegal program and two years of paralegal experience.
- Possess an associate's degree from an accredited school and four years of paralegal experience.
- Possess a Juris Doctor from an American Bar Association-approved school and one year of paralegal experience.
Approved paralegal programs are programs that have either been approved by the American Bar Association, or that are in compliance with the ABA's guidelines and are accredited by an accreditation agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Florida Department of Education.
You can also qualify to receive the FRP credential if you successfully pass the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations) or the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal exam (offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants). FRP certification can also be earned by proving that you have been working as a paralegal for a member of the Florida Bar for five of the eight previous years. You will need your employer to attest to the number of years you have been working
Individuals who opt to receive paralegal certification from the North Carolina State Bar Association may use the following credentials:
- North Carolina Certified Paralegal (NCCP)
- North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal
- Paralegal Certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification
Certification is awarded upon the successful completion of a three-hour exam that covers federal, common, and North Carolina law as it applies to communication, research, analysis, documentation, and organization.
In order to be qualified to take the exam, an applicant must:
- Be a legal resident of the United States
- Have obtained a degree in paralegal studies from a program approved by the American Bar Association or qualified by the Board of Paralegal Certification
To maintain certification, you must complete six hours of continuing legal education every year, including at least one hour that focuses on ethics and legal responsibility.
The Ohio State Bar Association offers voluntary certification as an OSBA Certified Paralegal. To become certified, you have to successfully pass an exam that covers substantive and procedural law; legal research and writing; ethics; communication; computer knowledge; and law office management.
In order to be eligible to take the exam, you must meet certain educational requirements:
- Possess a bachelor's degree in any subject, complete a paralegal studies program (at least 20 semester hours, or equivalent hours), and have one year of full-time experience as a paralegal.
- Possess a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies (at least 124 semester hours, or equivalent hours) and have one year of full-time experience as a paralegal (or 2,000 hours).
- Possess an associate's degree in paralegal studies (60 semester hours, or equivalent hours) and have five years of full-time paralegal experience (or 10,000 hours).
- Possess a high school diploma or equivalent and have seven years of full-time paralegal experience (or 14,000 hours) starting before December 31, 2006.
You must also provide three professional references (two from attorneys in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio), and you must have taken at least 12 credit hours of continuing legal education in the three years preceding your application for certification. Of those 12 hours, two-and-a-half total hours should be spent on legal ethics, legal professionalism, and substance abuse. Continuing education courses must be approved by the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on CLE, the National Association of Legal Assistants, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, or the Ohio State Bar Association. Certification will remain valid for four years.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization offers paralegal certification in six different areas:
- Civil Trial Law
- Criminal Law
- Estate Planning and Probate Law
- Family Law
- Personal Injury Trial Law
- Real Estate Law
In order to qualify, applicants must have experience under a qualified Texas attorney; at least 30 hours of continuing legal education in courses approved by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; a bachelor's degree (or higher); and must have successfully competed an accredited paralegal program (or have four years of paralegal experience). Applicants must also pass a day-long examination.