A certified paralegal sometimes is referred to as a paralegal who has completed a certification program. There are several recognized certification programs. 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). The Texas Board of Legal Specialization offers a voluntary specialty certification program in six areas of Texas law. Other states have state-specific examinations.
The National Federation of Paralegal Associations defines a paralegal as “…a person qualified through education, training or work experience, to perform substantive legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily, but not exclusively, performed by a lawyer. Paralegals may be retained or employed by a lawyer, law office, governmental agency, or other entity or may be authorized by administrative, statutory or court authority to perform this work.” Paralegals adhere to recognized ethical standard sand rules of professional responsibility.
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