If you are considering a career as a legal assistant obtaining paralegal certification (CLA) is an absolutely essential step on your career path. Most paralegal certification programs require that you hold an associates or bachelors degree in another subject. Paralegal certification programs, by definition, are voluntary programs that are not mandated by the government but widely recognized by professionals as evidence a candidate has the appropriate amount of education and training for a job as a legal assistant.
There are approximately 600 paralegal programs in the United States and Canada, and these programs are offered through a diverse range of institutions. You can acquire paralegal certification through a community college, University, on-line schooling, or a privately owned educational program. It’s important to find a certification program that is right for you as there are many different factors to consider, such as the length and cost of the program. These various programs differ depending on where you live, check out your local resources to find a program near you.
Paralegal certification provides you the training you need to be prepared for legal work in the real-world, like those on our Edmonton Lawyers page. You can complete a certification program in as little as 7 months or as long as a year and a half, depending on the amount of work you are comfortable taking on. At the end of the program you must pass the CLA/CP exam give by the National Association of Legal Assistant in order to be granted an official paralegal certificate.
While you are enrolled in a paralegal certification program you will learn the many different skills it takes to be a successful legal assistant such as:
- Prepare legal documents for review by an attorney
- Research case law using online legal databases, such as LexisNexis
- Draft basic legal documents such as complaints and answers
- Assist in legal tasks by conducting interviews and using investigative efforts
- In-depth knowledge of all relevant state and federal statutes
The paralegal certification is recognized by the National Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association. Once you receive your CLA or CP it gives potential employers the confidence they need to ensure their firm or company can depend on your legal skills and abilities to get the job done right. As a certified legal assistant you play an important role in the over-all legal process and have authority in various aspects of applying the law. Finding and enrolling in a certification program is the first step towards realizing your dreams of an exciting and challenging legal career