The Certified Paralegal (CP)

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The Certified Paralegal (CP) certification is a key to success, respect, and opportunity throughout the legal profession. Here’s why:

  • Known as a national professional standard for paralegals 
  • Acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of excellence 
  • More than 47 paralegal organizations acknowledge the CP as the definitive paralegal certification 
  • Responsive to the needs of paralegals and the fact that this form of self-regulation is necessary to strengthen and expand the development of this career field
  • A positive, ongoing, voluntary program to encourage the growth of the paralegal profession, attesting to and encouraging a high level of achievement

For over 45 years, NALA’s Certified Paralegal Program has been recognized both nationally and internationally. It has received recognition from both the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the American Bar Association. On April 30, 2014, the NCCA granted accreditation to our program, making us its only accredited Certified Paralegal Program. Our CP credential has also been acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of high professional achievement. With our acknowledgments, we pride ourselves on our professionalism, while still maintaining lasting relationships with our Certified Paralegals.

The Certified Paralegal Program sets paralegals apart in the workplace. Having the certification from NALA sets you up as an industry leader capable of contributing to your company every day.  As making the decision to apply for the Certified Paralegal Exam is a commitment, please take some time to review the Certification Process to determine if the NALA CP Certification fits your career goals.

Successful completion of both exam sections (Knowledge and Skills) is required to obtain the CP credential. In order to apply for the CP Program, a paralegal must first be eligible. Once an applicant has been approved, they will then proceed with taking the CP Exam.

To be eligible to take the CP Exam, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Enrolled in or graduated from a paralegal program
  • Obtained a bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Five years of experience as a paralegal

Our program consists of two exams, Knowledge and Skills, that you can read more about in this section.

If you have any questions, please contact us at testing@nala.org or 918-587-6828.


The National Commission for Certifying Agencies has accredited the NALA Certified Paralegal Program for a five-year period, expiring in 2024.

Founded in 1975, NALA is a professional association providing continuing education and professional certification to paralegals. Currently, over 8,900 paralegals may use the Certified Paralegal (CP) designation. The CP credential has been awarded to over 20,000 paralegals in its span of over 45 years. The Certified Paralegal (CP) Program is the first NCCA-accredited certification program that serves the legal community.

NALA’s Certified Paralegal Program received NCCA accreditation in 2014 by submitting an application demonstrating the program’s compliance with NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs. NCCA is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (I.C.E.). The NCCA standards require demonstration of a valid and reliable process for development, implementation, maintenance, and governance of certification programs. NCCA uses a rigorous peer-review process to establish accreditation standards, evaluate compliance with the standards, recognize organizations/programs that demonstrate compliance, and serve as a resource on quality certification.

The NCCA standards cover all aspects of the certification program, including administration, assessment development, and recertification. Since 1987, the NCCA has been accrediting certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.

NCCA standards are consistent with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (AERA, APA, & NCME, 1999) and are applicable to all professions and industries. To maintain accreditation, organizations are required to submit annual reports to NCCA and undergo a reaccreditation every five years.

Accreditation provides third-party oversight of an assessment system. It provides a mechanism for associations to demonstrate to the profession they represent, and the general public they serve, that their credentialing program has been reviewed by a panel of impartial experts who have determined that the program has met the stringent standards set by the credentialing community. NCCA accreditation provides organizations with a way to answer the question, “Who reviewed your certificate or certification program?” This question is often posed by members of an occupation, employers, and sometimes even the courts.

There are more than 270 NCCA-accredited programs that certify individuals in a wide range of occupations, including nurses, financial professionals, respiratory therapists, counselors, and emergency technicians. I.C.E.’s mission is to advance credentialing through education, standards, research, and advocacy to ensure competence across professions and occupations. NCCA was founded as a commission whose mission is to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of certification programs that assess professional competence.

I.C.E. and NCCA are located at 2025 M Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-3309; phone 202.367.1165; fax 202.367.2165; website

Certifying Board Mission Statement

The NALA Certifying Board is committed to providing the national professional standard for paralegals and to constantly improve and evolve national paralegal certification accreditation and standards to demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skills, and integrity required to practice as a certified paralegal.  

Vision Statement

The premier national certification credential for paralegals.

The NALA Certifying Board for paralegals is responsible for the content, standards, and administration of the Certified Paralegal Program. It is composed of attorneys, paralegal educators, and paralegals who have received a Certified Paralegal designation.

In the technical areas of statistical analysis, examination construction, reliability, and validity tests, the Board contracts with a professional consulting firm that offers expertise in these areas and in occupational research. Technical and content analyses of the Certified Paralegal Examination are conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the examination, with job analysis studies conducted appropriately every six years.

The latest nationwide study of paralegal duties was conducted by NALA, and the results were reported in the Job Analysis that was released in January 2023. This report provides detailed information about on-the-job duties and responsibilities of paralegals and the skills needed to perform their work. Survey findings are utilized by the NALA Certifying Board to ensure the Certified Paralegal Examination focuses on the skills and knowledge required of working paralegals in today’s environment. The job analysis study is conducted approximately every six years.

During Certifying Board members’ term, they will not be involved in Certified Paralegal Exam review seminars and programs or the preparation of written material designed to assist those preparing for a section of the Certified Paralegal Examination.

The Certifying Board member shall disclose to the Board chair immediately upon appointment any previous or current involvement in a review program and state the sections of the examination involved. Upon determination by the Certifying Board, the member may participate in exam development activities on subjects in which they have expertise but no involvement in review programs.

Proctors, judges, and examiners should not have a vested interest (either clear, potential, or perceived) in the outcome of any examination. Therefore, they are considered third-party professionals who have signed confidentiality and conflict of interest agreements.

Individuals who participate in examination development activities as part of the Certifying Board and/or an exam development committee may not develop or deliver exam review seminars or programs or write or significantly contribute to examination preparation materials, including books and articles, for at least two years after their examination development work has been completed. Examination activities and development include item writing, item review, exam review, participating on a cut score study panel, and other activities during which the individual has access to or participates in developing confidential examination content.

For information concerning standards of professional credentialing programs, you may want to see the article, The Certified Legal Assistant Program and the United States Supreme Court Decision, in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Illinois.

For Legal Professionals

The success of an office requires the right people. NALA Certified Paralegals are capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations and are highly motivated lifelong learners. By hiring NALA Certified Paralegals, employers can have peace of mind knowing their paralegals have passed a demanding examination of the knowledge and skills needed to provide excellent paralegal services.


Upon hiring, attorneys can utilize NALA’s certification as a credible way to measure a paralegal’s skill set. If you need to verify that a potential job candidate is a CP, please check our Certified Paralegal Directory.

Please consult the NALA Utilization and Compensation Report Summary of Findings to learn more about the paralegal profession.

Certified Paralegal Commitment

The Certified Paralegal credential is key to respect and opportunity throughout the legal profession. Earning this credential is a proud achievement, and maintaining the right to use it is a career-long commitment. Certification must be maintained through continuing education relevant to the demands of the paralegal career. The CP credential is valid for a period of five years.

First Time Examinee Application Fees:


  • $240 – NALA members
  • $280 – Non-NALA members

Paralegal Student (The paralegal student fee is for paralegal students who will be graduating from a Paralegal program within the 60-day document submission deadline and do not currently qualify under categories 1, 2, or 3.)

  • $150 – NALA members
  • $175 – Non-NALA members


  • $325 – NALA members
  • $375 – Non-NALA members

NALA plays a significant role in helping service members and veterans apply their military training and experience to professional credentials.

The Certified Paralegal Examination has been approved by the Veterans Administration under the licensing and certification benefit. The VA will pay the examination fee for qualified veterans. For further information, see www.gibill.va.gov/.

NALA offers a 25% discount on the Certified Paralegal Exam application fee (upon verification of military status)

Discounted fee:

$240 – NALA members

$280 – Non-NALA members

  • active-duty service members
  • veterans
  • guardsmen
  • reservists
  • their spouses

For information about how the military branch will cover the costs for the application fee, click on one of the following:

US Army Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL)
US Navy Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL)
US Coast Guard Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL)
US Marine Corps’ Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL)

Please be sure to review the Eligibility Requirements and the Examinee Information pages to understand what is required of a Certified Paralegal examinee.

NALA Certifying Board Announces New Certified Paralegal (CP) Exam Specifications, Effective 2024

The NALA Certifying Board oversees the development and maintenance of the Certified Paralegal (CP) Examination. The board works with subject matter experts and psychometric consultants to ensure the exam is consistent with national testing and accreditation standards.

The CP Exam is a validated, national, standardized examination designed to measure the knowledge and skills—also referred to as core competencies—that are required of a paralegal. It is a two-part test that consists of Knowledge and Skills Exams.

The Certified Paralegal Exam is administered by NALA and is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). NALA periodically updates and revises the content of the exam through job analysis studies and research. NALA and the Certifying Board’s Job Analysis Task Force completed their most recent job analysis at the end of 2022, which has informed the new CP Exam specifications that will begin in 2024. Click the links below if you are interested in learning more about the New 2024 CP Exam Specifications or to review the 2022 Job Analysis Study.