CERTIFICATE vs CERTIFIED: What’s the difference?

  • CERTIFICATE vs CERTIFIED: What’s the difference?

    Posted by Julie Enez on July 24, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    A paralegal certificate: is recognition earned from an approved paralegal studies program.

    A paralegal certification (certified): is when a professional has passed a rigorous legal skills test to become a certified paralegal.

    Earning a paralegal certificate is no small accomplishment, but it should not be confused with being a certified paralegal.

    Paralegal certification requires taking a qualification exam through a state agency or paralegal association and involves taking a thorough examination that demonstrates a paralegal’s skills, knowledge, and experience.

    What are the requirements for becoming certified?

    The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), requires that paralegals who wish to gain the designation of Certified Paralegal or Certified Legal Assistant must:

    § Be a graduate of an approved paralegal program.
    § Take the Certified Paralegal examination.
    § Earn a qualifying score on the examination.

    NALA also offers an Advanced Paralegal Certification for Certified Paralegals who want to earn a further designation that signifies specialized knowledge in a particular subject area, including depositions, trust and estate litigation, contracts, trial practice, commercial leases, family law, discovery, eDiscovery, and criminal litigation.

    Paralegals who are certified are required to maintain their credential by taking continuing legal education (CLE) courses. This enables them to stay up to date on the latest legal knowledge and ethical obligations, increasing their value to their employers.

    Why does all this matter?

    Paralegals who confuse earning a certificate with becoming certified are doing more than making an embarrassing mistake. They run the risk of misrepresenting themselves within the legal industry. Much the same way as someone claiming to be an attorney when they have not passed the bar.

    While the paralegal profession is largely unregulated with few state licensing or registration requirements, certification has become the standard of excellence that more and more employers are prioritizing when hiring.

    To learn more about being a paralegal visit nala.org or other paralegal associations.

    Julie Enez replied 7 months, 1 week ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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