about nala

about nala

Trusted Since 1975

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Our Mission

Advancing paralegals through certification and professional development.

Our Vision

We are paralegals’ preeminent resource for individual and professional success.

Since 1975, NALA has been trusted to provide exceptional continuing education and professional development designed specifically to advance paralegals and other legal professionals in their careers. NALA connects members with their peers across the nation and opens doors of knowledge and opportunity.  

NALA provides current information about the paralegal profession through continuing education,  networking opportunities, professional certification programs, occupational survey reports, and other publications to help paralegals excel in the workplace. NALA is a non-profit organization, 501(c)(6), representing more than 12k+ paralegals, who are individual members or members of NALA affiliated associations. NALA is a membership organization. This means that the individual members of NALA are the leading force of NALA programs and policies. The association is governed by a Board of Directors and maintains an office and headquarters staff in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

NALA is a trade name (filed in Oklahoma in 2003) for The National Association of Legal Assistants which was formed on April 10, 1975 in Oklahoma.

Certification, continuing education, and networking are all opportunities that NALA offers. We understand that the paralegal profession is constantly evolving and professionals need to be able to keep up with the changes. That is why we have developed continuing education programs and services specifically geared for paralegal growth. Some of the educational resources we provide include our conference and paralegal workshop held every year in July, and our abundance of online education courses, programs, and books.

The Certified Paralegal (CP) credential is key to respect and opportunity throughout the legal profession. The use of the CP credential signifies that a paralegal is capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations. The CP credential has been acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of high professional achievement, and more than 47 paralegal organizations and numerous bar associations also acknowledge the CP as the definitive paralegal certification. Learn more about becoming a NALA CP.

The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) advocates for and encourages diversity, equity, and inclusion within the paralegal profession. We recognize that to continually be a “preeminent resource for individual and professional success,” we must build on and derive strength from inclusion, equity, diversity, and those initiatives that promote it. NALA encourages and fosters a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment within the association and its affiliated associations, as well as the law firms, corporations, legal service providers, and the paralegal community our members and peers support. NALA strives to partner with affiliated associations and other professional legal organizations to advance and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. NALA welcomes members from all backgrounds and encourages connections within our diverse membership.

Strength through diversity includes all individuals regardless of race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, medical condition, military or veteran status, and political affiliation.

NALA welcomes your comments and thoughts, and seeks your input regarding how to better achieve greater diversity within our association, our affiliated associations, and the paralegal profession as a whole. Please contact Vanessa Finley, CEO with any feedback.

You can find NALA online at:

In the beginning…

Adapted from an article by Jane H. Terhune, CLAS and Dorthea Jorde, CLAS

The National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (“NALA”), an Oklahoma corporation, was born in Minot, North Dakota, in April 1975. The gestation period lasted a few years, and many legal professionals were directly or indirectly involved after the need for a national association for paralegals was first recognized in the early 1970’s.

The first step, in 1973, was the creation of special national seminars and workshops for law office employees who were performing legal assistant tasks on the job. Attendance at the new educational programs was restricted to men and women whose attorney-employers signed an attestation that their job functions were closely akin to legal assistant performance alluded to in the definition adopted by the special American Bar Association Committee. The programs were planned and presented by the Legal Assistant Section of the Nation Association of Legal Secretaries (“NALS”), which had supported and worked with the ABA Special Committee on Legal Assistants since 1968.

In 1974 a task force was appointed to investigate the feasibility of a national certification examination for legal assistants. Five legal assistants, two paralegal educators, and two attorneys served on this task force, which evolved into the first Certifying Board of NALA. After a series of questionnaires to existing national certification programs and paralegal program directors, it became clear that a separate national professional association must be formed for legal assistants.

In January 1975 the task force met with the NALS Executive Committee in Tulsa, Oklahoma to draft a proposal to dissolve the Legal Assistant Section and to support the formation of a new and separate association for legal assistants. Jane Terhune and Dorthea Jorde met with NALS corporate attorney Jack Freese and NALS Executive Director Maxine Dover to draft articles of incorporation, constitution, and bylaws. The bulk of this drafting was accomplished in a two-day marathon session in a Chicago Hotel Room.

At an emotion-packed meeting in April 1975, the NALS Board of Directors adopted the proposal, and NALA quickly became a reality. Within hours the bylaws were adopted and officers were chosen. The initial Board of Directors was composed of nine former members of the task forces.

Dates
1975-1985
  • The National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. became a legal entity; headquarters established in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • NALA members adopt a Code of Ethics & Professional Responsibility
  • First eight-page issue of Facts & Findings
  • First examination administered to 90 legal assistants across the US with 48 achieving the Certified Legal Assistant Credential
  • NALA welcomes first affiliate associations (Colorado and Ohio)
  • NALA Manual for Legal Assistants, first edition, published by West Publishing Company
  • CLA Specialty program announced
  • NALA and the ABA Section of Economics of Law Practice jointly sponsor a nationwide seminar on the effective use of paralegals in the law practice
  • NALA members adopt the NALA Model Standards and Guidelines for Utilization of Paralegals
  • First CLA short course
1986-1995
  • National Paralegal Utilization and Compensation survey begins
  • NALA files amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court in Blanchard v. Bergeron and Missouri vs. Jenkins. The court’s decision in Missouri v. Jenkins affirmed the conclusion of paralegal time at market rates in attorney fee awards and established precedent for subsequent fee awards by state and federal courts throughout the nation
1996-2005
  • Certified Paralegal “CP” certification mark granted by USPTO
2006-2015
  • NALA filed a third amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Richlin v. Chertoff, 2008, again addressing the award of paralegal time, this time under the Equal Access to Justice Act
  • Certified Paralegal Exam moves to computer-based testing
  • The Certified Paralegal Program is nationally accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies

NALAPastPresidents

Jill l. Francisco, ACP
Jill l. Francisco, ACP

2018-2020

Huntington, WV

Cassandra Oliver-Divens, ACP
Cassandra Oliver-Divens, ACP

2016-2018

Tulsa, OK

Kelly A. LaGrave, ACP
Kelly A. LaGrave, ACP

2014-2016

Lansing, MI

Ann L. Atkinson, ACP
Ann L. Atkinson, ACP

2012-2014

Omaha, NE

Karen Greer Mcgee, ACP
Karen Greer Mcgee, ACP

2010-2012

Shreveport, LA

Linda J. Wolf, ACP
Linda J. Wolf, ACP

2008-2010

Dallas, TX

Tita A. Brewster, ACP
Tita A. Brewster, ACP

2006-2008

Las Cruces, NM

Debra J Smith, ACP
Debra J Smith, ACP

2004-2006

Bloomington, IL

Vicki J Kunz
Vicki J Kunz

2002-2004

Bismarck, ND

Patricia G. Elliott, ACP
Patricia G. Elliott, ACP

2000-2002

Phoenix, AZ

Vicki Voisin, ACP
Vicki Voisin, ACP

1998-2000

Charlevoix, MI

Brenda Allensworth Mientka, ACP
Brenda Allensworth Mientka, ACP

1997-1998

Colorado Springs, CO

Amy J Hill, ACP
Amy J Hill, ACP

1996-1997

Raleigh, NC

Pamela J. Bailey, ACP
Pamela J. Bailey, ACP

1994-1996

Pittsburgh, PA

Karen M Dudd, ACP
Karen M Dudd, ACP

1992-1994

Avon, CO

Connie Kretchmer, ACP
Connie Kretchmer, ACP

1990-1992

Omaha, NE

Karen B Judd, CP
Karen B Judd, CP

1988-1990

Champaign, IL

Karen Sanders-West, JD, ACP
Karen Sanders-West, JD, ACP

1986-1988

Wichita, KS

Kay Kasic, CP
Kay Kasic, CP

1984-1986

NAPA, CA

Robert F. Farrell, CP
Robert F. Farrell, CP

1982-1984

Norfolk, VA

Signa Treat
Signa Treat

1980-1982

Seattle, WA

Janis Davidson, CP
Janis Davidson, CP

1979-1980

Birmingham, AL

Dorthea Jorde, ACP
Dorthea Jorde, ACP

1977-1979

Minot, ND

Jane Terhune, ACP
Jane Terhune, ACP

1975-1977

Tulsa, OK