The Certified Paralegal Credential

Use of the CP credential signifies that a paralegal is capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations. National surveys consistently show Certified Paralegals are better utilized in a field where attorneys are looking for a credible, dependable way to measure ability. The credential has been recognized by the American Bar Association as a designation which marks a high level of professional achievement. The CP credential has also been recognized by over 47 legal assistant organizations and numerous bar associations.

For information concerning standards of professional credentialing programs, you may want to see the article: The Certified Legal Assistant Program and the United States Supreme Court Decision in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois. In this case, the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue concerning the utilization of professional credentials awarded by private organizations. In Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois, 110 S.Ct. 2281 (1990), the Court suggested that a claim of certification is truthful and not misleading if it meets certain standards. This article details those standards in terms of the standards of the NALA Certified Paralegal Program.

Paralegal or Legal Assistant
The terms "legal assistant" and "paralegal" are synonymous terms. The terms are defined as such throughout the United States in state Supreme Court rules, statutes, ethical opinions, bar association guidelines and other similar documents. NALA has become increasingly aware that while the terms are defined as identifying the same professional, a preference in terms has emerged.   For this reason, NALA filed for a certification mark "CP" with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The certification mark was successfully registered on July 20, 2004.

Those who are admitted to the Certified Paralegal program today and successfully complete the examination are awarded a "Certified Paralegal" certificate and may use the credential "CP."  Those who renew their certification are also awarded the "Certified Paralegal" certificate and encouraged to use the credential "CP." However, some with this certification continue to use the credential, "CLA."

Certified or Certificated
Occasionally, paralegals call themselves "certified" by virtue of completing a paralegal training course, or another type of preparatory education. Although a school may award a certificate of completion, this is not the same as earning professional certification by an entity such as NALA. In this instance the school's certificate is designation of completion of a training program.