The North Carolina State Bar’s Plan for the Certification of Paralegal is a self-funded, voluntary certification program of the North Carolina State Bar, the regulatory agency for North Carolina lawyers. The Plan provides incentives to North Carolina paralegals to obtain a minimum level of education and pass an examination to become a “North Carolina Certified Paralegal”. The Plan does not restrict the use of the term “paralegal” nor does it differentiate between the services of a certified and a non-certified paralegal. However, it does provide a much-needed benchmark to ensure paralegal competency and enhance the quality of legal services provided by North Carolina paralegals.
The purpose of the North Carolina State Bar’s Plan for Certification of Paralegals is to assist in the delivery of legal services to the public by (1) identifying individuals who are qualified by education and training and have the demonstrated knowledge, skill, and proficiency to perform substantive legal work under the direction and supervision of a licensed lawyer; and (2) improving the competency of those individuals by establishing mandatory continuing legal education and other requirements of certification.
The program is voluntary. A paralegal may choose not to be certified and still perform substantive legal work under the supervision of a lawyer using the titles “paralegal” and “legal paralegal”. Obtaining certification is not a requirement to be employed as a paralegal/legal paralegal or to call oneself a paralegal in North Carolina. However, the titles “North Carolina Certified Paralegal,” “North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal,” and “Paralegal Certified by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Paralegal Certification” are reserved for those individuals who are certified by the North Carolina State Bar.
There are also paralegal certification programs offered through national voluntary paralegal associations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (“NALA”) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (“NFPA”). Paralegal certification by these nongovernmental organizations is a voluntary process in which applicants who satisfy certain requirements, including completion of an approved educational program, passage of a qualifying exam or documented work experience, are certified. Certification is distinct from a certificate of completion, which generally is awarded upon successful completion of an educational or training program.
For more information about the NALA certification program, contact:
National Association of Legal Assistants
1516 South Boston Street
Tulsa, OK 74119
For more information about the NFPA certification program, contact:
National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc.
One Parkview Plaza
Oakbrook Terrace, IL