General Information about State Activity
The terms paralegal/legal assistant are used interchangeably by the American Bar Association. Employers may define the terms separately. Paralegals are not currently licensed as lawyers are in any state. The supervising attorney remains responsible for the paralegal's work product and conduct. See Rule 5.3 of the Model Rules of Professional conduct.
The California legislature enacted regulatory provisions for Paralegals but created no agency of government to oversee or enforce the provisions.
Paralegal State Activity
Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Dist. of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Sources of Certification
Certification has been a subject of considerable interest and debate for many years among paralegal associations, bar associations and some legislatures. Certification is a process by which a non-governmental agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications specified by that agency or association. It usually involves passing an examination drawn up by the sponsoring organization and meeting specified educational and/or experiential requirements. The American Bar Association does not certify Paralegals. Paralegals may not represent themselves as "ABA-certified paralegals," because the ABA's approval applies to the paralegal education program rather than to the individual paralegal.
Certification by Paralegal Organizations:
- The National Association of Paralegals (NALA) awards the designation Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) or Certified Paralegal (CP) to persons who have met its requirements, which include passing a competency exam. Advanced specialty certification (CLAS) exams are also administered by NALA, as are a few state-specific advanced competency examinations.
- The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) awards the designation Registered Paralegal (RP) to persons who have met its requirements, which include passing the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE).
- NALS, the association for legal professionals, offers two paralegal certifications.
- The American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI) awards the designation American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP).
Certification by State Bars: