NALA depends on volunteer members and leaders of the paralegal community for program development, research, and administration. There are four major boards and committees of NALA, each overseeing integral parts of NALA. The boards are composed of paralegals, paralegal educators and attorneys and are autonomous bodies. The committees are composed of NALA members, all active members of NALA, and are experienced paralegals.
The board is composed of NALA members who have the CP credential, attorneys, paralegal educators, and a member of the public. NALA members serve three-year terms, attorneys and paralegal educators serve for two-year terms. The Chair is a non-voting member of the NALA Board of Directors. Much of the work of the Certifying Board is not readily apparent to the NALA membership but critical to the maintenance of the integrity of the CLA/CP program.
The Certifying Board is distinguished from other segments of NALA in that the Certifying Board has its own governance policies, and is responsible for the appointment of Certifying Board members, as well as maintaining the certification program. In addition, the composition of the Certifying Board includes a member of the public who represents the interest of attorneys or clients and others who may utilize the services of paralegals. Paralegal members of the Certifying Board must be current NALA members.
Recognition of the CP credential is vital to the program, and the board will continue to encourage certified paralegals to proudly display the credential.
Advanced Paralegal Certification Board
The Advanced Paralegal Certification Board administers a program of continuing education courses for paralegals on various specialty areas of law and provides a certification process to recognize those who have achieved the Certified Paralegal certification and successfully complete advanced courses.
The board is composed of NALA members with the ACP credential, paralegal educators, paralegal managers, attorneys and a member of the public. NALA members are appointed for three-year terms. Attorney/educator/manager members serve two-year terms. The Chair of the Advanced Paralegal Certification Board is a non-voting member of the NALA Board of Directors.
The APC Board is responsible for the content, standards and administration of the APC programs, including development and updating course content. The board works with outside consultants on certification programs and technical writers to ensure the integrity of the courses and certification process. As with the Certifying Board, this board is distinguished from other segments of NALA in that the Advanced Paralegal Certifying Board has its own governance policies, and is responsible for the appointment of Board members, as well as maintaining the advanced certification program. In addition, the composition of the Advanced Paralegal Certifying Board includes a member of the public who represents the interest of attorneys or clients and others who may utilize the services of paralegals. Paralegal members of the Certifying Board must be current NALA members.
NALA began offering APC courses in 2006. Several years in their development, these web-based certification courses represent a new standard in continuing education and recognition of the educational achievements of experienced paralegals.
Continuing Education Council
The Continuing Education Council plans and coordinates all continuing education efforts of NALA. This includes the annual convention educational program; FACTS & FINDINGS; NALA Campus LIVE web-casts; CLA Short Course; and the NALA publications, Certified Paralegal Study Guide and Mock Examination and NALA Manual for Paralegals. It’s a big job!
The Continuing Education Council is composed of eleven NALA members. The Chair is a voting member of the NALA Board of Directors.
Specific policies and responsibilities of the Continuing Education Council include:
- Offer educational programs to NALA members through seminars and published materials
- Ensure educational materials address a range of knowledge and skills – from basic to advanced levels
- Enhance members accessibility to NALA educational events
- Focus on FACTS & FINDINGS as a means of continuing legal education for members
- Consider a variety of ways NALA may reach continuing education goals
- Offer support programs for those seeking CLA/CP or ACP certification
- Consider NALA educational programs as means of professional growth for NALA members, as well as education. This includes programs such as the Member Exchange program of the NALA annual convention, and encouraging members to publish educational articles in FACTS & FINDINGS.
Professional Development Committee
The NALA Professional Development Committee is responsible for maintaining the NALA Model Standards and Guidelines for Utilization of Legal Assistants and is responsible for content of the annual Career Chronicle edition of FACTS & FINDINGS. The PDC is an integral part of NALA’s work in the areas of membership communications and professional standards.
The PDC is composed of three members (appointed for three-year terms). The NALA Ethics Chair also participates on this committee. The Chair of the PDC is a voting member of the NALA Board of Directors.
During the 2007-08 year the PDC launched LEAP – NALA’s Leadership Enhancement and Preparation program for members. LEAP is designed to explore the various facets of leadership and prepare volunteers for the challenges of national leadership roles with NALA. LEAP members and discussion leaders work together during a 12 month program and meet via web-based lectures, group discussion, and research. LEAP is now an integral part of the duties and responsibilities of the PDC.
Details of the programs described in the committee summaries are included throughout the web site. Visit the program pages and areas to learn more.