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Certification


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. 

Members need to log in with their NALA Net User name, and member number as the password. Non-members will be provided login information in an electronic newsletter.  Click here to request this information from NALA Headquarters.

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Recertification Requirements and Procedures

Purpose

The Certified Paralegal credential is valid for a period of 5 years. Certified Paralegals may renew their certification upon submission of proof of participation in 50 clock hours of continuing legal education (CLE) programs, including a minimum of 5 hours of legal ethics, which provide instruction of a substantive nature on various practice areas of law, rules of procedure, or skills that are relevant to the work of paralegals; and a signed affidavit that the Certified Paralegal has not been convicted of a felony during the five year period, along with the $125 recertification fee.

The recertification requirements are as important to the certification procedure as the examination itself in the award and continued use of the CP credential. As with most professions and occupations, the daily work requirements and laws governing legal practice change, sometimes rapidly.  The recertification requirements of the CP credential recognize that change is a part of professional life and career growth. To maintain a successful career as a paralegal, and a credential relevant to employers and consumers of paralegal services, participation in CLE programs is required.

A CP who has been certified for more than five (5) years, is retired or disabled, may submit a request to NALA that he/she be placed into an Emeritus status and be relieved from meeting further requirements for continuing legal education. The policy describing Emeritus Status for Certified Paralegals appears below.

Rationale for 5 year Recertification Period


The five year period is enforced based on the rapid changes in law or procedures that are expected routinely in the legal field.

Rationale for Recertification Requirements

Continuing Education Hours.
The Certifying Board will accept most requests for CLE hours based on attendance of programs that are either pre-approved by NALA or offered by reputable companies or associations. Credit for attending bar association programs may be accepted, provided the course subject must be relevant to the work of paralegals. Programs offered by paralegal associations may be accepted provided that any courses on substantive practice areas include attorneys as part of the faculty. The Board will also accept requests for CLE hours for teaching, publication of a scholarly article, attendance of classes at a community college, college or university. Hours are awarded for live programs, as well as web-based live and web-based self-study programs, and audio tapes. If there is any question as to relevance or proof of participation, the Board may request further information from the Certified Paralegal, including an employer’s attestation as proof of participation.

Ethical Standards.
In addition, the Board is concerned that the ethical standards which govern paralegals in their daily work are followed. A condition for removal of the Certified Paralegal credential includes a felony conviction, as well as proof the Certified Paralegal has violated the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of NALA. If a paralegal has been accused of a violation of the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, this information is automatically submitted to the Certifying Board. A felony conviction is not usually known to the Certifying Board. For this reason, as a condition of renewal, all Certified Paralegals must sign an affidavit that they have not been convicted of a felony during the five year period. The affidavit is provided to Certified Paralegals with renewal information (Recertification Audit Verification Form).

Recertification Procedures- Continuing Education Hours
Classifications of Hours, Number of Hours Required and Maximum Limits


Certified Paralegals may renew their certificate upon submission of proof of participation in 50 clock hours of continuing legal education (CLE). The clock hours must include:

  • Ethics: 
    5 of the 50 hours of CLE credit must be on the subject of legal ethics
  • Non-Substantive Law Subjects:  
    No more than 10 hours of the 50 hours of CLE credit may be recorded for participation in seminars or classes in non-substantive law subjects.  Examples of non-substantive law subjects include law office management, computer program instruction, communications, and office technology. Non-substantive subjects are subjects that are related to the work of a paralegal, but are not in specific law practice areas.
  • Maximums (further definitions of categories and relevancy appear below):
No more than 20 hours may be recorded per request for:
Special Experiences
Successful completion of an Advanced Paralegal Certification course or state specialty examination
Completion of a for-credit college course with a grade C or better
 
No more than 10 hours may be recorded per request for:
Auditing a college course 

Continuing Education Hours –Timing of Hours Awarded and Certification Period

  • Timing – Eligible Hours:  Hours may be awarded for participation in events, classes or special experiences that occur after the initial certification or recertification date.
  • Hours applied to subsequent five-year periods:  If more than 50 hours are recorded during a five year period, excess hours may not be applied to a subsequent period.
  • Hours for programs taken during probationary period: Hours for CLE programs taken during a probationary period will be first applied to the previous period until the hours and course requirements are met. Then, the hours will be applied to the next/current five year period.

Continuing Education Hours – General Procedures and Definitions

  • Reports of CLE hours recorded

Certified paralegals may request a report of the number of CLE hours recorded at any time. This information is also available to Certified Paralegals via an on-line portal.A Certified Paralegal receives notification from NALA Headquarters each time hours are recorded on his/her file, with the number of hours and date the hours were recorded.

  • Hours recorded – labeled “Confirmed”

The label “confirmed” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that documentation verifying the program and attendance has been received by Certifying Board staff. No further documentation is required.

  • Hours recorded – labeled “Unconfirmed”

The label “unconfirmed” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that documentation verifying the program and attendance has not been received by Certifying Board staff.  This entry is subject to audit by the Certifying Board. It generally applies to entries filed via use of the on-line form.

  • Hours recorded – labeled “Recorded”

The label “recorded” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that the CLE hours  previously labeled “unconfirmed” have been recorded and are no longer subject to audit by the Certifying Board. 

Pre-Approval of CLE Events

Pre-Approval of requests by Certified Paralegals:  Certified Paralegals may contact NALA Headquarters in advance of a program to seek information about these requirements and to determine whether participation in a CLE program would meet the Certifying Board’s requirements.

Pre-Approval of programs by seminar providers:  Seminar providers may complete a “Request for Approval of Credit of Continuing Legal Educational Programs for Certified Paralegals” form provided by NALA.  Upon receipt of the form, NALA will advise the program sponsor if the program is approved and the maximum number of CLE hours that may be awarded.

Return of Documentation

Documentation submitted to substantiate requests for CLE hours is not returned to the Certified Paralegal

Relevancy


In review of all requests for continuing education hours, the Certifying Board’s first concern is whether the program is relevant to the work of paralegals. In instances where this is unclear, the board may request further information, or request an employer’s attestation.

Emeritus Status of Paralegals


Any CLA or CP who has been certified for more than five (5) years, is 55 years of age or older, and who withdraws from employment and who no longer works as a paralegal or legal assistant may submit a request to NALA that he/she be placed into an Emeritus status and be relieved from meeting further requirements for continuing legal education.

Any CLA or CP who becomes permanently disabled and stops working as a paralegal or legal assistant may submit medical proof of disability and, upon approval of the Certifying Board, be granted the status of CLA Emeritus.
 
Any CLA or CP who returns to employment as a paralegal or legal assistant will no longer retain Emeritus status and will be required to meet the same requirements as all other CLAs or CPs; with the five year recertification period beginning on the date of reemployment. Should the CP have any units of education accrued to his/her benefit when Emeritus status is granted, they may be carried over, provided, the CLA or CP has not been on Emeritus status for more than two and one-half years.