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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. 

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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How the Exam is Developed, Section Descriptions, Passing Scores

How the Certified Paralegal Exam is Developed

The Certifying Board provides oversight for the development and ongoing maintenance of the examination.  The Certifying Board, NALA certification program staff, and trained subject matter experts, work in partnership with a qualified psychometric consultant to ensure the examination is developed and maintained in a manner consistent with generally accepted psychometric, educational testing practices, and national accreditation standards for certification programs.

The Certifying Board selects diverse groups of qualified subject matter experts (SMEs) to participate in exam development activities throughout the exam development and maintenance process. Activities that involve subject matter expert participation include creating job analysis surveys, creating test content outlines, writing and reviewing exam items, and establishing the passing point for exams. Ad-hoc committees and/or working groups of subject matter experts composed of Certifying Board members, paralegals, attorneys, educators, and other outside experts may be assembled for these tasks.

Job analysis studies are conducted approximately every six years to identify and validate the knowledge and skills which will be measured by the examination sections. The results of the job analysis studies serve as the basis for the exam specifications. These exam specifications, with weights for each content area, are approved by the Certifying Board.

Qualified subject matter experts write and review items for the exam.  Subject matter expert item writers and reviewers complete mandatory training provided by the certification program on item writing/review for certification examinations. Items are subject to multiple levels of review and analysis before being used as graded items on the exam.

The Certifying Board oversees a continual process of item writing, review and evaluation to ensure that exam content remains up-to-date, accurate, and consistent with the content outline.

Updates to Exam Specifications

The previous model for the Certified Paralegal Examination consisted of a five part examination on the subjects of Communications, Ethics, Judgment & Analytical Ability, Legal Research, and Substantive Law. The Substantive Law section consisted of a test on the American Legal System plus four additional tests based on specialty practice areas. Examinees could select the four areas from a list of nine practice areas.

In April of 2013, NALA Certifying Board announced new specifications for the Certified Paralegal examination beginning with the September 2013 testing window. These modifications are based on a careful and detailed analysis of the findings of the 2012 Job Analysis study conducted by the Board in consultation with PSI Psychometric Consulting Services.

The new examination specifications call for adjustments to the number of points per subjects within all sections of the examination. No new subjects were introduced in any examination area.

The most significant modification to the examination is the elimination of several practice area tests under the Substantive Law section. It was demonstrated by the job analysis study that, on a nationwide basis, few paralegals utilize the knowledge and skills tested by these practice area examination sections on a regular and routine basis in the workplace.

In addition, the option to select questions from certain specialty practice areas will no longer be available to examinees.  All examinees will take the same Substantive Law section of the examination, as is the case with all other sections of the Certified Paralegal examination.

Effective with the September 2013 testing and subsequent testing sessions, the Substantive Law section consists of questions on the following subjects:

  • American Legal System
  • Civil Litigation
  • Business Organizations
  • Contracts

With these modifications, the Certifying Board has listened to member and nonmember paralegals, and has applied findings of the job analysis study to the exam specifications. The Certifying Board strives to link the Certified Paralegal examination directly to the day to day duties and responsibilities of paralegals in the workplace. The modifications demonstrate a continued effort to ensure the Certified Paralegal examination remains an accurate and relevant reflection of today’s paralegals.

Examination Descriptions

The Certified Paralegal examination is divided into five sections. Examinees are asked to demonstrate knowledge by responding to true/false, multiple choice and matching questions requiring knowledge of the subject and reading comprehension skills. Analytical skills are further tested by an essay question on the Judgment and Analytical Ability section. Any form of test question (true/false, multiple choice, essay) may be used at any time on the Certified Paralegal examination. Sections of the examination are:
  • Communications
  • Ethics
  • Legal Research
  • Judgment & Analytical Ability
  • Substantive Law
    • American Legal System
    • Civil Litigation
    • Contracts
    • Business Organizations
For a detailed list of  current exam specifications.

Examination Points and Passing Scores - September 2013

Once admitted to the Certified Paralegal credentialing program, examinees must successfully complete a  5-part examination.  The five parts and their total points are:

Examination Section Total
Percent of Points
to Pass,
September 2013
and subsequent testing
Communications 75 79.0%
Ethics 75 76.8%
Judgment and Analytical Ability 150 73.1%
Legal Research 50 64.3%
Substantive Law 200 65.3%

The points required to pass each exam section vary for each section and they  may vary  slightly with each version of the examination.

click here for an explanation of how passing scores are determined and the passing scores for each examination section.