Do States Require Paralegal Certification?


Within the realm of the paralegal profession, the notion of certification is nothing new. However, there’s one element that causes much confusion – certification. While becoming certified within a profession is not unheard of, especially when dealing with the legal industry. When dealing with the paralegal industry, there are two primary levels of certification.

National Paralegal Certification

The first is national certification. These are carried out by nationally recognized certification bodies, such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. These certification examinations scale your knowledge of the legal system on national scale. While these certifications are essential for many paralegals to progress throughout their career, if you’re looking to truly enhance your career options and upward mobility then completing a state-level paralegal certification may be worth your time.

While state certification is not a requirement to work within this profession, it’s a recommended journey to increase your marketability and placement in this industry. However, one of the major problems when achieving this goal is understanding the legalities and eligibility requirements. Although every state is different, the following information can help guide you throughout the process of obtaining state-level paralegal certification.

State Paralegal Certification

Although state certification isn’t necessarily required to work as a paralegal, if you’re looking to enhance your career in any fashion, then this is a necessary step. The certification process is largely dependent on your state. Many states offer their own certification examination through its state bar association. For example, North Carolina, Texas and Florida offer this certification exam via its bar association. Other states, such as Louisiana and Kentucky, offer state-level paralegal certification through its Professional Paralegal Association, which is not operated under the local bar association.

Regardless of who issues state certification, each examination features a unique list of eligibility requirements. These requirements generally range from completed educational programs to years of work history as a paralegal. In recent years, these also may include various online paralegal degree options that students may choose to enroll in. More on these rules may be found here.

Because state certifications are different than national certification examinations as they are more localized to regional laws, the exact topics covered will slightly vary. Although specific topics can vary, there are several universal topic domains covered by an examination. These include:

Communication | The purpose of this section of the examination is to gauge your understanding when it comes to gathering and reporting information as well as understanding how to clearly interact with lawyers and attorneys.

Research | This section determines your basic understanding of authenticating and finding information via various research techniques.

Analysis | Determine how you can accurately assess client situations and suggest potential courses of action.