Welcome Paralegal Educators and Trainers!
One of the best ways to prepare your paralegal students for graduation and beyond is to encourage and support their efforts to become a Certified Paralegal (CP®). The benefits of certification are numerous.
For the paralegal, obtaining the CP® demonstrates the paralegal has acquired the legal core competencies that employers and clients are looking for. A CP® validates professional credibility and establishes the mindset of a lifelong learner, especially considering ongoing CLEs are required to maintain the credential. Additionally, as paralegals prepare for the CP® Exam, they gain new skills and knowledge as they must become competent in eight practice areas along with demonstrating knowledge of the overall US legal system and professional and ethical responsibility.
As with many certifications, the CP® increases the marketability of the paralegal, creating the potential for career advancement and promotion. In fact, earning the CP® has resulted in an average wage or salary increase of nearly $5,000 per year. A voluntary certification is often seen as evidence of an individual’s personal drive and motivation and shows an employer a strong work ethic and dedication to the profession. Ultimately, taking the CP® Exam provides the student and the educator insights into where the student stands in the field.
For employers and for the paralegal field, in general, a Certified Paralegal adds professionalism and credibility to the field, firms, and individual departments. Firms often increase the billing rates of their Certified Paralegals, as the credential is an identifier of their higher skill and knowledge level. In fact, the US Supreme Court through Richlin v. Chertoff and Missouri v. Jenkins has supported the practice of incorporating paralegal fees, including higher fees for those who have a certification or credential, into their recoverable fees calculations.
A benefit specifically for attorneys is that utilizing a CP® reduces the risk and liability of a supervising attorney. This speaks directly to Rule 5.3 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct that states a lawyer must ensure conduct of nonlawyer employees is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer. NALA’s credentialing body requires that paralegals adhere to a code of ethics, and a portion of the exam is dedicated to professional and ethical responsibility. Supervising attorneys can have confidence that their CPs have extensive understanding of ethical requirements such as confidentiality, the unauthorized practice of law, and conflicts of interest.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits for a school or other educational setting is that the CP® Exam can be a measure for educational institutions. Is your program teaching the core competencies of the field? Insight into student pass rates by exam sections allow educators to determine where their programs are excelling and where they can make improvements.
Click here to visit the NALA certification page to learn more about resources to help those preparing for the CP® Exam.