Certified Paralegal (CP)
In order to call yourself a paralegal in the State of Florida, you must meet the Florida Bar’s™ definition: A paralegal is a person with education, training, or work experience who works under the direction and supervision of a member of The Florida Bar and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a member of The Florida Bar is responsible. Paralegals enter the field either through formal education training, work experience, or a combination of both. The vast majority of law firms now require a degree as a minimum requirement for prospective new hires. In addition, many firms also require the CP designation.
To become a CP (certified paralegal), you must take the CP exam offered through NALA. Once you have passed the CP exam, you are eligible to take the Florida Certified paralegal examination offered by the paralegal Association of Florida (PAF). Upon passing the exam, you are entitled to use the FCP designation. Advanced certifications for particular areas of law are available through NALA; however, you must have obtained the CP designation before you are eligible for any of these advanced certifications.
The National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (“NALA”), administers the CLA/CP Examination. Successful completion of this national, comprehensive, two-day written exam entitles paralegals to use the designation “CLA or CP” after their names. This signifies that these paralegals are capable of providing superior services to the law firms and companies who employ them and are eminently qualified to perform those services. As of January 31, 2009, there are 14,965 CLAs/CPs in the country and 3,866 of those are from the State of Florida.
CLA’s are required to have 50 hours of continuing legal education credits over a five year period to maintain the CLA/CP certification. Visit nala.org for more information.
In 2006, NALA initiated a new web-based format for the advanced certification program. Current specialty certifications include Contracts Management/Contracts Administration, Discovery, Social Security Disability, Trial Practice, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Business Organizations: Incorporated Entities. Programs added since then include Trademarks, Personal Injury, and Land Use. See NALA’s ACP Page for more details.
Paralegal Association of Florida does not offer any study groups at the State level; however our chapters do occasionally offer study groups and courses. Please contact the chapter nearest you for more information.