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On April 30, 2014, The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) granted accreditation to the NALA Certified Paralegal program for demonstrating compliance with the NCCA Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA Standards were created to ensure certification programs adhere to modern standards of practice for the certification industry.  The NALA Certified Paralegal program joins an elite group of more than 120 organizations representing over 270 certification programs that have received and maintained NCCA accreditation. More information on the NCCA is available online at www.credentialingexcellence.org/NCCA

Click to learn more about the Advanced Paralegal Certification Program
Click learn more about advanced
certification for paralegals!

To download the 2012 Job Analysis Report. This major study of the paralegal career field was released by the NALA Certifying Board June 15, 2012.

 Current Directory of Certified Paralegals
This link opens a form that may be used to verify one's certification status. Please check the update date if a name is not listed.

Professional certification is a time honored career development tool. It is helpful to employers and those seeking to enhance their career options. Because of the reliance on certification programs for career decisions, it is important a program is professionally managed and administered. NALA's over 35 years of experience in this area, and nearly 17,000 paralegals attest to the professionalism of the program.

   CLE Look Up for Certified Paralegals
Click this link to review the CLE credits recorded on your account. This information includes the expiration date of your certificate, the total credits awarded, as well as the credits that are classified as non-substantive credits, and ethics. This information is updated every 24-48 hours during the business week. 

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In the working environment, professional certification is a time honored process respected by both employers and those within the career field. The following is a definition used by many to describe professional certification:

Professional certification is a voluntary process by which a nongovernmental entity grants a time-limited recognition to an individual after verifying that the individual has met predetermined, standardized criteria. (Source: Rops, Mickie S., CAE, Understanding the Language of Credentialing, American Society of Association Executives, May 2002.) 

The definition hits the high points. Certification is voluntary, not imposed by government. It is time limited, which means that those with the certification must fulfill ongoing educational requirements to keep the certification current, and the criteria for certification is recognized in the community. Keep these aspects in mind as you read more about the CP program.


The NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals is responsible for content, standards and administration of the Certified Paralegal Program. It is composed of paralegals who have received an Advanced Paralegal Certification designation, attorneys and paralegal educators.

In the technical areas of statistical analyses, examination construction, reliability and validity tests, the Board contracts with a professional consulting firm offering expertise in these areas as well as in occupational research. Technical analyses of the Certified Paralegal examination are conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure the integrity of the examination. Content analyses of the test design, accuracy of questions, and topic/subject mix for each exam section are ongoing processes of the Certifying Board. The Board also utilizes the occupational data available through surveys of paralegals and other means, including review of textbooks and research within the field of paralegal education. Through these analyses and procedures, the Board is assured that the examination reflects and responds to work-place realities and demands.

Background and Numbers

Established in 1976, the Certified Paralegal (then known as the CLA - Certified Legal Assistant) program  has enabled the profession to develop a strong and responsive self-regulatory program offering a nationwide credential for legal assistants. The Certified Paralegal program establishes and serves as a:

  • National professional standard for paralegals

  • Means of identifying those who have reached this standard.

  • Credentialing program responsive to the needs of paralegals and responsive to the fact that this form of self-regulation is necessary to strengthen and expand development of this career field.

  • Positive, ongoing, voluntary program to encourage the growth of the paralegal profession, attesting to and encouraging a high level of achievement.

As of November 2015, there are 18,584 Certified Paralegals and over 3,600 Advanced Certified Paralegals in the United States. Over 28,000 paralegals have participated in this program. Click here to see the distribution of Certified Paralegals across the United States. For the distribution of Advanced Certified Paralegals click here. The growth of these programs is impressive.  

The Certified Paralegal Credential

Use of the CP credential signifies that a paralegal is capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations. National surveys consistently show Certified Paralegals are better utilized in a field where attorneys are looking for a credible, dependable way to measure ability. The credential has been recognized by the American Bar Association as a designation which marks a high level of professional achievement. The CLA or CP credential has also been recognized by over 47 legal assistant organizations and numerous bar associations.

For information concerning standards of professional credentialing programs, you may want to see the article: The Certified Legal Assistant Program and the United States Supreme Court Decision in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois In this case, the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue concerning the utilization of professional credentials awarded by private organizations. In Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois, 110 S.Ct. 2281 (1990), the Court suggested that a claim of certification is truthful and not misleading if it meets certain standards. This article details those standards in terms of the standards of the NALA Certified Paralegal Program.

Is it CLA or CP?

The terms "legal assistant" and "paralegal" are synonymous terms. The terms are defined as such throughout the United States in state supreme court rules, statutes, ethical opinions, bar association guidelines and other similar documents. These are the same documents which provide recognition of the paralegal profession and encourage the use of paralegals in the delivery of legal services.

NALA has become increasingly aware that while the terms are defined as identifying the same professional, a preference in terms is emerging.  Different geographic areas use one term more than another. For this reason, NALA filed for a certification mark "CP" with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The certification mark was successfully registered on July 20, 2004.

Those who are admitted to the Certified Paralegal program today and successfully complete the examination are awarded a "Certified Paralegal" certificate and may use the credential "CP."  Those who renew their certification are also awarded the "Certified Paralegal" certificate and encouraged to use the credential "CP." However, some with this certification continue to use the credential, "CLA".

CLA is a certification mark duly registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (No. 113199). CP (design) is a certification duly registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (No. 78213275). Any unauthorized use of these credentials is strictly forbidden.

Am I a Certified Paralegal?

Occasionally, paralegals call themselves "certified" by virtue of completing a paralegal training course, or another type of preparatory education. Although a school may award a certificate of completion, this is not the same as earning professional certification by an entity such as NALA. In this instance the school's certificate is designation of completion of a training program.

The pages in this section provide detailed information for certification examinees and for those who are already certified. Read on to learn more about this important program.