Acquiring certification from the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) qualifies you to become a Certified Legal Assistant (CLA). This is what is commonly referred to as a Certified Paralegal (CP). Being certified would basically leave you at liberty to decide upon which career designation would suit you best. The CLA program has been in existence since 1976, and over 16,382 paralegals had successfully passed the examinations as of the year 2011. According to NALA, 2,300 of these candidates are currently Advanced Certified Paralegals. The certification is acknowledged across the United States and is used as the benchmark in the identification of qualified paralegals CISM exam .
The terms legal assistant and paralegal are used to describe those who have passed the exams and they actually mean the same. This can be attested by the fact that they are also recognized as such by the Supreme Court statutes, rules, Bar Association guidelines, ethical views and other similar statutes. The CLA exam basics and paralegals are essential for the recognition of these experts in their line of specialization. This therefore means that candidates who have successfully completed the exam have the right to use either the CP or CLA credentials.
NALA requires aspiring candidates to meet some requirements prior to certification; one of which is to pass the CLA exam. Paralegals seeking this designation must undertake a two-day comprehensive exam to test their skills in Fed law and procedures. Other major areas that are covered in the exam include communications, Legal research, ethics, and Substantive Law, Judgment and Analytical ability among others. Paralegals are also required to have met some requirements for them to be eligible for the examination. You must have graduated from an American Bar Association, have a Bachelors degree, coupled with at least one year of practice as a legal assistant. A high school diploma is also required or an equivalent of seven years experience as a legal assistant. The qualifications for CLA exam basics and paralegals have to be scrutinized by a member of the bar before they are given a stamp of approval. The condition is that you must pass all the five sections for you to be granted the certification. The most amazing though is that it is only a 40 percent of all the registered students who are able to achieve on the first attempt.
The exam does not necessarily require the candidate to travel for long distances in preparation for the exam. Arrangements can be made whereby the candidate can choose the location as well as the most convenient time to take the exam. There are currently more than 200 prometric testing facilities scattered across the United States where candidates can take their exams. The convenience that comes along with the exams is one of the main factors that make the exams stand out from the rest. A lot of commitment is required when studying for CLA exam as well as the readiness to spend some money on study materials. The good thing though is that compensation in terms of salary is worth the effort, although this should not be the major driving force. The CLA certification also helps paralegals boost their confidence and self esteem in their career quite significantly.