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.
Equipping paralegals for the challenges of the future through certification, professional development, and advocacy.
Ensuring paralegals are known and valued as an integral part of the legal ecosystem.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- Certified Paralegal “CP” certification mark granted by USPTO
- 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
Melissa J. Hamilton, ACP
Jill l. Francisco, ACP
Cassandra Oliver-Divens, ACP
Kelly A. LaGrave, ACP
Ann L. Atkinson, ACP
Karen Greer Mcgee, ACP
Linda J. Wolf, ACP
Tita A. Brewster, ACP
Las Cruces, NM
Debra J Smith, ACP
Vicki J Kunz
Patricia G. Elliott, ACP
Vicki Voisin, ACP
Brenda Allensworth Mientka, ACP
Colorado Springs, CO
Amy J Hill, ACP
Pamela J. Bailey, ACP
Karen M Dudd, ACP
Connie Kretchmer, ACP
Karen B Judd, CP
Karen Sanders-West, JD, ACP
Kay Kasic, CP
Robert F. Farrell, CP
Janis Davidson, CP
Dorthea Jorde, ACP
Jane Terhune, ACP