Paralegal Certification Guide 2022
National Paralegal Certifications
American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP)
NALS Certified Professional Paralegal
NALA Certified Paralegal
NFPA Paralegal Certification
Paralegal Certifications by State
Washington University School of Law
Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
Earn a Master of Legal Studies online from Washington University School of Law in as few as 12 months. Non-lawyers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the U.S. legal system and learn to apply legal skills in their current role.
- Complete in as little as one year
- Bachelor’s degree required
- Students can choose to concentrate in one of five specialization areas
Frequently Asked Questions about Paralegal Certifications
No, and they are not interchangeable. A certificated paralegal usually refers to those who hold a certificate of completion from a paralegal education program.A certified paralegal is someone who fulfills requirements or passes an exam and eventually receives a paralegal certification from an organization.
The amount of time required to complete a paralegal certification can vary. Factors include candidates’ work, educational background and knowledge of the legal field.
It’s also important to note that you may need to take continuing education courses to maintain your certification, which will require additional time.
You do not need to complete a professional certification to become a paralegal. Many employed paralegals are not certified paralegals. However, some employers, including law firms, use the NALA’s professional standards to determine minimum qualifications for hiring a paralegal. Therefore, some employers may only hire certified paralegals. A certification is not necessary but it is recommended.
A certification and a master’s degree are different ways to demonstrate your knowledge of the legal field. Both are valuable and may help you grow your career in the legal field. Consider your career goals or job requirements. Earning a paralegal certification is not dependent on obtaining a Master of Legal Studies and vice versa.
Paralegal certification programs may help you grow your career. Eligibility requirements, application process and recertification may impact which paralegal certification program you choose. It is worth noting that the NALA is the only National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited paralegal certification program. The American Bar Association and other organizations recognize the NALA program as the paralegal standard.
Eligibility requirements of paralegal certification exams are typically based on education or experience. You do not need a degree from an ABA-recognized school to take a paralegal certification exam. There are several ways that candidates may be eligible to take a certification, and completion of an ABA-recognized program is just one of them. However, keep in mind that some employers may prefer that your degree is from an ABA-recognized school.
Licensure refers to the authorization to use the title of “paralegal” and perform responsibilities of a paralegal. The only state that directly regulates paralegals is California. According to the ABA, Washington and Utah adopted licensing measures for those working in the legal field.
Upon successful completion of a certification exam, paralegals may use a credential after their name. The credential you use should come from the organization that administered your exam. For example, a paralegal who passed the NALA’s exam should use Certified Paralegal® as their credential. A paralegal who is certified through the NFPA’s PACE exam should use Registered Paralegal (RP).