Initiated by NALA in 1976, the Certified Legal Assistant credential has become the national professional credential for legal assistants. This program is designed to establish and ensure uniformity of professional standards for legal assistants. It also permits legal assistants to move from one state to another without loss of certified status.
Use of the CLA credential signifies that a legal assistant is capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations. National surveys consistently show Certified Legal Assistants are better paid and better utilized in a field where attorneys are looking for a credible, dependable way to measure ability.
The credential has been recognized by the ABA as a designation which marks a high level of professional achievement. The CLA credential has also been recognized by over 47 legal assistant organizations and numerous bar associations. As of August 1996, there are 8,099 Certified Legal Assistants and 654 Certified Legal Assistant Specialists in the United States.
The CLA program is administered by a board of legal assistants who
have achieved this credential, attorneys and legal assistant
educators. The examination is offered three times a year. It takes
two-days and covers the following areas:
Those who have achieved the CLA credential may seek advanced certification in specialty practice areas. Specialty certification examinations are available in the areas of Bankruptcy, Civil Litigation, Corporations/Business Law, Criminal Law and Procedure, Intellectual Property, Estate Planning and Probate, and Real Estate. Each of these is a four-hour examination written to test specialized knowledge of the practice area.
The Certified Legal Assistant credential must be renewed every five years. A certain number of hours of participation in relevant continuing education through seminars, workshops, special projects or formal classes must be accumulated in order to maintain the designation. Lifetime certification is not available.
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