5 Certifications or Credentials Valuable for Paralegals
- Certified Paralegal (CP) or Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)
- CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP) or PACE Registered Paralegal (RP)
- American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP)
- Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC)
- Professional Paralegal (PP)
Being a paralegal is a highly-specialized career within the legal field, requiring very specific law-based education and training in order to be successful. It also has few regulations or institutions that certify whether a paralegal is qualified or not. States generally do not require registration or certification to practice under any attorney that has passed the bar in that state. Therefore, when looking for a job as a paralegal, it is important to keep in mind that many employers look for professional certifications or credentials from other organizations to show aptitude, along with experience and often a degree.
Certified Paralegal (CP)
This widely-recognized credential for paralegals is offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants. It tests knowledge in the legal field, as well as examining analytical skills, writing abilities, and reading comprehension in a 5-section test. It requires a high school diploma plus 7 years of experience, a bachelor’s degree in any field plus 1 year of experience, or a bachelor’s degree from a bar association approved paralegal program and must be renewed every 5 years.
CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP) or PACE Registered Paralegal (RP)
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations offers the CRP and RP credential s for paralegal professionals. The CRP requires more than 2 years of post-high school education or years of experience and taking the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam. Educated, more experienced paralegals can sit for the advanced Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE) and use the RP credential to show their education and experience.
American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP)
The AACP is a credential offered to paralegals by the American Alliance of Paralegals. Applicants must have at least 5 years of paralegal experience as well as a bachelor’s, associate’s degree from a program approved by the ABA, or graduation from an ABA-certified program.
Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC)
Offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants, the APC is a credential offered only to those who have already achieved the organization’s NALA Certified Paralegal (CP) credential. This continuing education program gives Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, encouraging paralegals to advance their knowledge base in their specialization through this 20-hour online program. It requires 2 years minimum of post-high school education, a minimum of 2 years of experience in the field, and is renewed every 5 years.
Professional Paralegal (PP)
NALS, The Association for Legal Professionals, offers the PP accreditation nationwide as a means for experienced paralegals to establish their professional credentials. This program offers a 1-day, 4 part exam that demonstrates an understanding of the law, core paralegal skills, and other requirements of the bar association. Applicants must have 5 years of paralegal experience, have a Bachelor’s degree from an approved program or from any program plus at least 1 year of paralegal experience. This credential has to be renewed every 5 years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal field is growing at a rate much higher than most jobs — about 15% growth annually. The paralegal field is always in need of highly-skilled applicants, and a qualified paralegal with the right education, experience, and credentials will have little problem finding a satisfying, lucrative job. These five certifications or credentials can be very helpful for paralegals when searching for and securing the perfect position.