Established in 1976, the CP Certified Paralegal® program has enabled the profession to develop a strong and responsive self-regulatory program offering a nationwide credential for paralegals. The CP Certified Paralegal® program establishes and serves as a:
- National professional standard for paralegals
- Means of identifying those who have reached this standard.
- Credentialing program responsive to the needs of paralegals and responsive to the fact that this form of self-regulation is necessary to strengthen and expand development of this career field.
- Positive, ongoing, voluntary program to encourage the growth of the paralegal profession, attesting to and encouraging a high level of achievement.
The NALA Certifying Board for Paralegals is responsible for content, standards and administration of the CP Certified Paralegal® Program. It is composed of paralegals who have received an Advanced Paralegal Certification designation, attorneys and paralegal educators.
In the technical areas of statistical analyses, examination construction, reliability and validity tests, the Board contracts with a professional consulting firm offering expertise in these areas as well as in occupational research. Technical analyses of the Certified Paralegal examination are conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure the integrity of the examination. Content analyses of the test design, accuracy of questions, and topic/subject mix for each exam section are ongoing processes of the Certifying Board. The Board also utilizes the occupational data available through surveys of paralegals and other means, including review of textbooks and research within the field of paralegal education. Through these analyses and procedures, the Board is assured that the examination reflects and responds to work-place realities and demands.
As of 2016, there are over 18,000 paralegals who have achieved the certification credential and over 3,400 who have achieved the Advanced Certified Paralegals in the United States. Since its inception, over 28,000 paralegals have participated in this program. Click here to see the distribution of Certified Paralegals across the United States. For the distribution of Advanced Certified Paralegals click here.
The Advanced Paralegal Certification program is designed to recognize a paralegal's commitment to continued growth and life-long learning. Upon successful completion of the program, the CP will earn the Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) credential and continuing education hours. NALA offers advanced courses in 26 practice areas. The ACP credential has been awarded to more than 3,500 paralegals since its inception in 2006.
These courses focus on the mastery of course material developed under the direction of the Advanced Paralegal Certification Board. An assessment component is part of the curriculum-based program, as well as exercises. The focus is on education and learning specific subject matter rather than testing, which has already been achieved by the Certified Paralegal examination. The average course is about 20 hours in length and organized into multiple modules. These web-based courses are available on a 24/7 basis.