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Commitment to continued growth and life-long learning is the hallmark of a professional. Once a Certified Paralegal's career is launched, there will be a need for advanced CLE programs as one changes areas of practice, or is met with more challenging assignments. The Advanced Paralegal Certification program is designed to recognize this effort.
Advanced Paralegal Certification is available to those with a current Certified Paralegal certification. The advanced certification programs are written with the understanding that a person seeking advanced certification has already mastered the Certified Paralegal examination and has demonstrated knowledge and skills in areas of written communications, legal research, ethics, judgment and legal analysis, the American legal system, as well as general knowledge of four specialty areas of practice.
The Certified Paralegal certification program offers professional certification for paralegals immediately upon completion of their training. In 1982, NALA instituted the CLA Specialty program, to recognize a Certified Paralegal's specialized knowledge in a specialty area of practice. In 2002, a special task force was appointed to look at the CLA Specialty Certification program and see if changes were needed. The Task Force determined it was time to redesign and restructure the program. The result is the Advanced Paralegal Certification program, a web-based, curriculum based certification program.
Click to see the current number of Advanced Certified Paralegals and distribution among practice areas and states.
APC Program - Curriculum Based Certification
The curriculum-based certification is an accepted model of certification and professional development programs throughout the United States and across numerous occupations. This is certification based on specific course material.
An assessment component is part of the curriculum-based program. Participants are required to demonstrate mastery of the course material throughout the process. Both the educational and assessment components are on-line.
A curriculum-based model assumes that participants will discuss course material and consult outside sources, including colleagues, reference books, and specialty practice area experts. The focus is on education and learning specific subject matter rather than testing, which has already been done by the Certified Paralegal Examination to ensure that candidates have the requisite analytical, research, and writing skills.
Many years in development, this program increases access to advanced certification for paralegals working in specific practice areas.
APC courses are developed by the APC board and experienced technical writers. The courses are about 20 hours in length. The length of time spent on the courses will vary based on one's understanding of the material. Also, the courses include additional reading material and cases.
Advanced Paralegal Certification programs are now offered in the following areas:
The Advanced Paralegal Certification program of NALA is administered by a board composed of experienced paralegals, attorneys, paralegal educators, and paralegal managers. The Chair of the APC board is also a member of the NALA Board of Directors. All paralegals on the APC board have received the advanced certification credential. The board relies heavily on the expertise of technical writers and professional testing consultants.
For Certified Paralegals
Paralegals who have a valid Certified Paralegal credential from NALA and successfully complete an APC Course are awarded use of the ACP credential to signify this outstanding achievement. In addition, Certified Paralegals may also receive 20 hours of continuing legal education credit for completion of an advanced program. For the Personal Injury program, 20 hours of credit is awarded for completion of the Personal Injury Core Course; 10 hours is awarded for completion of a Personal Injury practice area couse.
Paralegals who do not have the Certified Paralegal certification are welcome to participate in these advanced programs. The credential will not be awarded, however.