Legal Assistant Certification is something to consider if you want to advance yourself in the legal field. While it is not mandatory at this time to have a certification, it might be in the near future. You can opt to get your certification ahead of time, before any laws go into effect.
Paralegal Certification, a Certified Paralegal, or CP is the same thing as a Certified Legal Assistant, or CLA. If you become certified, you can choose which title you would like to use.
First, we will cover the advantages to earning your Legal Assistant certification.
In becoming a CLA or CP, you earn the distinction of professionally using either of those designations after your name. You show potential employers, colleagues, and the world at large that you are a driven individual with the credentials to back it up.
Having earned a certification can set you apart from other applicants during a job search. Certification makes you better qualified and perhaps more educated than other candidates. Having Legal Assistant certification can get you in the door for an interview, and give you the advantage to get the job.
Legal Assistant certification can give you an edge at promotion time or if you are asking your employer for a raise. Some employers will even pay or refund you for the cost to become certified. Increased earnings are not limited to salary; you additionally increase your legal knowledge through studying for the certification exam. Your new found skills may qualify you for more tasks and increased responsibilities.
You need to also understand the following information, which you may find to be disadvantages in becoming a CLA.
A major time commitment is involved in order to earn your certification. It is a requirement of nearly all of the certifying establishments that you take a test that will gauge your legal aptitude. You must devote time to studying before you take the certification examination in order to pass. Some of the organizations who certify Legal Assistants require a certain number of years’ experience prior to taking an examination. Another time consuming aspect is that you will need to occasionally participate in Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes to keep your certification up to date.
Obtaining certification can be expensive. Each certifying institution sets its own prices, which range from $75 to $275 USD. Costs include the application and exam fees. One agency offers an online Legal Assistant Certification preparation class for an added fee of $395. Costs for required Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses are an additional expense. Re-certification fees are also required every few years to maintain certification status.
It is not difficult to get a job in the legal field if you are not certified. Particularly in areas where there is not a lot of competition for Legal Assistant jobs. It is mostly in major cities or large corporate offices where certification becomes more of an issue due to increased competition. No state in the U.S. requires certification to operate as a Legal Assistant at present.
Some states in the U.S. have passed or begun legislation in order to address certification. Check with your local jurisdiction whether your state has requirements as to whether you can call yourself a Paralegal. Certification may be a requirement in the future. If you become a CLA now, you will not have any issues in the future to be able to meet any necessary criteria to be a Paralegal.