Extreme Makeover for Advanced Certification
National Association of
1516 South Boston Avenue
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
The need for this new program has
intensified over the years as the paralegal work environment has become
Marge Dover, CAE
face of advanced paralegal professional certification is changing, and
it is an extreme makeover.
National Association of Legal Assistants is launching its new curriculum
based Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC) program this year with
Internet courses on Contracts Administration/ Management and Business
Organizations. A full array of advanced certification courses will
follow as the program matures, replacing the venerable Certified Legal
Assistant Specialty (CLAS) program.
Changing to the curriculum-based Internet learning and assessment
process is a dramatic change from
the onsite testing process that has characterized the CLAS program since
1982. The new program remains true to high educational standards set by
the CLAS while providing a more “user friendly” means of qualifying for
need for this new program has intensified over the years as the
paralegal work environment has become increasingly specialized. Both
employers and paralegals have expressed a desire for more narrowly
focused specialty certification to meet real-world demands. The new
program has come from concept to fruition in slightly more than three
years to meet these requirements.
Development of the new program has included input from a Ph.D.
consultant in testing and evaluation as well as from certified
paralegals and educators across the nation. The process of determining
the direction of the program, identifying procedures and changes to be
made, and developing the curricula has been an exhaustive effort.
Successful completion of the CLA/CP examination is prerequisite to
enrolling in the APC program. The curricula are written with the
understanding that candidates have a command of written communications,
legal research, ethics, judgment and legal analysis, a general knowledge
of the American legal system, and four areas of substantive law. Each
APC course lists knowledge that paralegals need before enrolling.
Enrollment also requires participants to enter into a “Learning
Contract” between the program and the participant. This contract assists
candidates by establishing a self-directed plan of study and learning,
by focusing on individual goals and learning objectives, and by helping
them stay on track for successfully completing the program.
Candidates are expected to actively engage with course content by
working with a representative of the APC Board or knowledgeable
colleagues, and by relating course concepts to actual job activities by
talking with others who work in the specialty area. All online exercises
must be completed and all module tests must be passed with scores of at
least 90 points.
new program relies heavily on integrity and honesty, and all candidates
agree to abide by the NALA Code of Ethics. The credentialing
process includes a notarized “Statement of Completion” addressing how
the self-directed study enhanced and supported the goals set forth in
the “Learning Contract.”
candidate must also attest that work submitted as part of the program is
his or her own — although it is accepted that seeking information from
colleagues or a member of the APC Board is perfectly acceptable within
the context of the program’s emphasis on learning. This emphasis is
highlighted upon fulfillment of the program when NALA notifies
candidates’ employers of courses completed, subjects studied, and the
scrupulous learning discipline involved in achieving ACP certification.
Bringing advanced paralegal certification into the world of Internet
communication is a major addition to NALA’s established suite of
successful online educational programs such as NALA Campus and NALA
Campus LIVE! The APC program is expected to follow in this tradition of