The Certified Paralegal credential is valid for a period of 5 years. Certified Paralegals may renew their certification upon submission of proof of participation in 50 clock hours of continuing legal education (CLE) programs which provide instruction of a substantive nature on various practice areas of law, rules of procedure, or skills that are relevant to the work of paralegals; and a signed affidavit that the Certified Paralegal has not been convicted of a felony during the five year period.
The recertification requirements are as important to the certification procedure as the examination itself in the award and continued use of the CP credential. As with most professions and occupations, the daily work requirements and laws governing legal practice change, sometimes rapidly. The recertification requirements of the CP credential recognize that change is a part of professional life and career growth. To maintain a successful career as a paralegal, and a credential relevant to employers and consumers of paralegal services, participation in CLE programs is required.
A CP who has been certified for more than five (5) years, is retired, disabled, or withdraws from employment as a paralegal may submit a request to NALA that he/she be placed into an Emeritus status and be relieved from meeting further requirements for continuing legal education. The policy describing Emeritus Status for Certified Paralegals appears below.
Rationale for 5 year Recertification Period
The five year period is enforced based on the rapid changes in law or procedures that are expected routinely in the legal field.
Rationale for Recertification Requirements
Continuing Education Hours.
The Certifying Board will accept most requests for CLE hours based on attendance of programs that are either pre-approved by NALA or offered by reputable companies or associations. Credit for attending bar association programs may be accepted, provided the course subject must be relevant to the work of paralegals. Programs offered by paralegal associations may be accepted provided that any courses on substantive practice areas include attorneys as part of the faculty. The Board will also accept requests for CLE hours for teaching, publication of a scholarly article, attendance of classes at a community college, college or university. Hours are awarded for live programs, as well as web-based live and web-based self-study programs, and audio tapes. If there is any question as to relevance or proof of participation, the Board may request further information from the Certified Paralegal, including an employer’s attestation as proof of participation.
In addition, the Board is concerned that the ethical standards which govern paralegals in their daily work are followed. A condition for removal of the Certified Paralegal credential includes a felony conviction, as well as proof the Certified Paralegal has violated the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of NALA. If a paralegal has been accused of a violation of the NALA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, this information is automatically submitted to the Certifying Board. A felony conviction is not usually known to the Certifying Board. For this reason, as a condition of renewal, all Certified Paralegals must sign an affidavit that they have not been convicted of a felony during the five year period. The affidavit is provided to Certified Paralegals with renewal information (Recertification Audit Verification Form).
Recertification Procedures- Continuing Education Hours
Classifications of Hours, Number of Hours Required and Maximum Limits
Certified Paralegals may renew their certificate upon submission of proof of participation in 50 clock hours of continuing legal education (CLE). The clock hours must include:
5 of the 50 hours of CLE credit must be on the subject of legal ethics
- Non-Substantive Law Subjects:
No more than 10 hours of the 50 hours of CLE credit may be recorded for participation in seminars or classes in non-substantive law subjects. Examples of non-substantive law subjects include law office management, computer program instruction, communications, and office technology. Non-substantive subjects are subjects that are related to the work of a paralegal, but are not in specific law practice areas.
- Maximums (further definitions of categories and relevancy appear below):
No more than 20 hours may be recorded per request for:
Successful completion of an Advanced Paralegal Certification course or state specialty examination
Completion of a for-credit college course with a grade C or better
No more than 10 hours may be recorded per request for:
Auditing a college course
Continuing Education Hours –Timing of Hours Awarded and Certification Period
- Timing – Eligible Hours: Hours may be awarded for participation in events, classes or special experiences that occur after the initial certification or recertification date.
- Hours applied to subsequent five-year periods: If more than 50 hours are recorded during a five year period, excess hours may not be applied to a subsequent period.
- Hours for programs taken during probationary period: Hours for CLE programs taken during a probationary period will be first applied to the previous period until the hours and course requirements are met. Then, the hours will be applied to the next/current five year period.
Continuing Education Hours – General Procedures and Definitions
- Reports of CLE hours recorded
Certified paralegals may request a report of the number of CLE hours recorded at any time. This information is also available to Certified Paralegals via an on-line portal.A Certified Paralegal receives notification from NALA Headquarters each time hours are recorded on his/her file, with the number of hours and date the hours were recorded.
- Hours recorded – labeled “Confirmed”
The label “confirmed” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that documentation verifying the program and attendance has been received by Certifying Board staff. No further documentation is required.
- Hours recorded – labeled “Unconfirmed”
The label “unconfirmed” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that documentation verifying the program and attendance has not been received by Certifying Board staff. This entry is subject to audit by the Certifying Board. It generally applies to entries filed via use of the on-line form.
- Hours recorded – labeled “Recorded”
The label “recorded” for entries of CLE hours that are recorded on a Certified Paralegal’s file means that the CLE hours previously labeled “unconfirmed” have been recorded and are no longer subject to audit by the Certifying Board.
Pre-Approval of CLE Events
Pre-Approval of requests by Certified Paralegals: Certified Paralegals may contact NALA Headquarters in advance of a program to seek information about these requirements and to determine whether participation in a CLE program would meet the Certifying Board’s requirements.
Pre-Approval of programs by seminar providers: Seminar providers may complete a “Request for Approval of Credit of Continuing Legal Educational Programs for Certified Paralegals” form provided by NALA. Upon receipt of the form, NALA will advise the program sponsor if the program is approved and the maximum number of CLE hours that may be awarded.
Return of Documentation
Documentation submitted to substantiate requests for CLE hours is not returned to the Certified Paralegal
In review of all requests for continuing education hours, the Certifying Board’s first concern is whether the program is relevant to the work of paralegals. In instances where this is unclear, the board may request further information, or request an employer’s attestation.
Emeritus Status of Paralegals
Any CP who has been certified for more than five (5) years, is 55 years of age or older, and who withdraws from employment as a paralegal may submit a request to NALA that he/she be placed into an Emeritus status and be relieved from meeting further requirements for continuing legal education.
No CP who is partially retired will be permitted the Emeritus CP designation. Any CP who becomes permanently disabled and stops working as a legal assistant, may submit medical proof of disability and, upon approval of the Certifying Board, be granted the Emeritus CP designation. Any CP who returns to full time employment, will no longer retain the Emeritus designation and will be required to meet the same requirements as all other CPs; with a five year period for submitting continuing legal education accruals, beginning with the date of reemployment. Should the CP have any units of education accrued to his/her benefit, they may be carried over, provided, however, the CP has not been in an Emeritus CP designation for more than two and one half years.