Professional Organizations and Certification

Although no state currently requires paralegals to be licensed or certified, increasing numbers of paralegals are opting to become certified by taking a professional exam. At present, two separate certification exams are offered by each of two different national professional paralegal groups: the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). The only way to become certified is to take and pass one of these two exams.

NALA's certification exam (known as the "Certified Paralegal" or "CP" Exam) can be taken by persons who have completed a qualifying course of paralegal education. No practical experience is required to take this exam. All graduates of NVCC's paralegal studies program are immediately eligible to take the NALA certification exam. In addition, students who have already earned bachelors degrees (from any accredited college or university, and in any major field of study) can become eligible to take NALA's certification exam by successfully completing 15 semester hours of paralegal studies ( 5 NVCC courses). Those who pass the NALA certification exam are entitled to use the credential "CP," which stands for "certified paralegal." For more information on NALA certification requirements, please contact NALA at www.nala.org.

NFPA has two certification exams--the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam (PCCE) and the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE). The Paralegal CORE Competency Exam (PCCE) is new and was developed to test the core competencies of early-career and entry-level paralegals and takes into account coursework in paralegal programs as well as the actual skills considered essential for basic competency in the profession. Students who complete NVCC's program are eligible to sit for the PCCE. Candidates who achieve a passing score are entitled to use the credential CORE Registered Paralegal or "CRP." The PACE is for experienced paralegals and requires a candidate to have completed both a qualifying course of paralegal education and a period of substantive work experience as a paralegal. Students who graduate from NVCC's program can sit for the PACE after accumulating six years of work experience. Students who complete NVCC's program and who have also earned a bachelor's degree can sit for the PACE after accumulating two years of work experience. Those who pass PACE are entitled to use the credential "RP" which stands for PACE Registered Paralegal. For more information on NFPA's certification opportunities, please contact NFPA at www.paralegals.org.

FAPP (The Foundation for the Advancement of the Paralegal Profession) is all about Empowering and Promoting ParalegalsTM. The Foundation's mission is to promote and advance the professional and educational standards of paralegal professionals. Please contact FAPP at www.paralegalfoundation.org.