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Paralegal Certification: The Ultimate Guide

National Paralegal Certification Exams

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CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP)  |  PACE Registered Paralegal (RP)  |

Certified Paralegal (CP); Certified Legal Assistant (CLA)  |  Professional Paralegal (PP)

NFPA Paralegal Core Competency Exam – CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP)

 

Quick Facts For CRP Paralegal Certification

  • Cost: $215 nonrefundable
  • Retest: 6 month waiting period and another $215
  • Administration: Computer based
  • Test Length: Two and a half hours
  • Testing Times: Every day except holidays and Sundays.
  • Renewal Requirements and Fee: $25/annual and eight hours of CLE every two years plus one hour of ethics.

Summary of Content

Established in 2011, the CORE Registered Paralegal Exam is a core competency exam allowing applicants to pass the exam and demonstrate general competency in the domains of paralegal practices and substantive areas of law; both listed below:

Paralegal Practice

  • Paralegal Practice
  • Ethics and Professional Practice
  • U.S. Legal System
  • Branches of Government
  • Legal Research
  • Legal Writing and Critical Analysis
  • Communication
  • Law Office Management and Legal Technology
  • Civil Litigation

Substantive Areas of Law

  • Business Organizations
  • Contracts
  • Criminal
  • Estates, Wills and Trusts
  • Family
  • Real Estate
  • Torts

Education and Eligibility Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject and a paralegal certificate.
  • Bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies, no experience or CLE needed.
  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject + 1 hour of ethics or six months experience.
  • Associates degree in paralegal studies.
  • Paralegal certificate from a program that meets the requirements set forth in NFPA’s Short Term Paralegal Program + 1 year of experience and six hours of CLE including one hour of ethics.
  • Active duty, retired, or former military personnel qualified in a military operation specialty as a paralegal with 1 hour of Ethics CLE.
  • Candidates within two months of graduating and registered for the PCCE by a Paralegal Studies Program Director or involved in PCCE Assurance of Learning (AoL) Program.
  • High school diploma or GED + 5 years of experience and 12 hours of CLE including one hour of ethics.

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NFPA Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam –PACE Registered Paralegal (RP)

 

Quick Facts for RP Paralegal Certification

  • Cost: $225 (member) $250 (non-member) + $25 nonrefundable application fee
  • Retest: 6 month waiting period and another $250 (member) or $275 (non-member)
  • Administration: Computer based
  • Test Length: Four hours.
  • Testing Times: Every day except holidays and Sundays.
  • Renewal Requirements and Fee: $25/annual and twleve hours of CLE every two years plus one hour of ethics.

Summary of Content

Established in 1996, the PACE Registered Paralegal Exam is an advanced competency exam allowing applicants to pass the exam and demonstrate advanced competency within the domains: Administration of Client Legal Matters, Development of Client Legal Matters, Factual and Legal Research, and Factual and Legal Writing:

Substantive Areas of Law

  • Bankruptcy
  • Corporate Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Contracts
  • Criminal
  • Estates, Wills and Trusts
  • Family
  • Intellectual Property
  • Real Estate
  • Torts

Education and Eligibility Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject from an accredited school + 3 years of paralegal experience.
  • Bachelor’s degree and completion of a paralegal program in an institutionally accredited school and a minimum of 2 years substantive paralegal experience.
  • Associate degree in paralegal studies obtained from an institutionally accredited ABA approved paralegal program + six years of paralegal experience.
  • Four years of legal experience prior to December 31, 2000.

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NALA Certified Paralegal (CP) / Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) Exam

 

Quick Facts for CLA Paralegal Certification

  • Cost: $225 (member) $250 (non-member) + additional test site fees from $40-$47 per section.
  • Retest: $50 per section + test site fees.
  • Administration: Computer based
  • Test Length: 8 hours over 5 total sections.
  • Testing Times: January, May, and September in major US cities.
  • Renewal Requirements and Fee: $50/annual and 50 hours every five years including 5 hours of ethics.

Summary of Content

Established in 1975, the Certified Paralegal and Legal Assistant Exam is a competency exam allowing applicants to pass the exam and demonstrate competency within the basic domains necessary to be a paralegal or legal assistant.

Exam Composition

  • Communications – 1.5 hours
  • Judgment & Analytical Ability – 2 hours
  • Ethics – 1 hour
  • Legal Research – 1.5 hours
  • Substantive Law – 2 hours

The test is also broken into smaller sections based on the applicants choice. Applicants can chose from administrative law, bankruptcy, business/corporate organization, family law, criminal law, and procedure, litigation, probate and estate planning, or real estate. All applicants must take an exam covering the American legal system.

[note: As of May 2011, Judgment and Analytical Ability is solely an essay.]

 

Education and Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduation from an ABA approved legal assistant program or post-baccalaureate program.
  • Bachelor’s degree program in legal assistant studies or legal assistant program of 60 or more hours consisting of 15+ hours in substantive legal courses.
  • Bachelor’s degree in any field plus one year of experience as a legal assistant.
  • High school diploma or equivalent plus seven years of experience as a legal assistant under the supervision of an attorney + 20 hours of CLE within the two year period prior to the exam.

 

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NALS Professional Paralegal Exam (PP)

 

Quick Facts for PP Paralegal Certification

  • Cost: $200 (member) $250 (non-member)
  • Retest: $50 per section (member) or $60 per section (non-member)
  • Administration: Computer based
  • Test Length: 1 day
  • Testing Times: First Saturday of March and last Saturday of September in most major metro areas.
  • Renewal Requirements and Fee: $75/annual and 75 hours every five years including 5 hours of ethics.

Summary of Content

Established in 2004, the Professional Paralegal Exam is a competency exam designed to test written communications, legal knowledge and skills, ethics and judgment, and all other substantive areas of law.

Exam Composition

  • Part 1: Written Communication
  • Part 2: Legal Knowledge and Skills
  • Part 3: Ethics and Judgement
  • Part 4: All substantive areas of law: administrative law to worker’s compensation.

Education and Eligibility Requirements

  • Five years of experience performing paralegal duties.
  • Two years waived (3 required) for paralegals with a paralegal degree.
  • One year waived (4 required) for candidates with a post-secondary degree + successful completion of the PLS exam.