Big Changes Coming for Paralegal Certification in 2024!
The Board of Paralegal Certification is tasked with administering the North Carolina State Bar’s Paralegal Certification Program. After much study and deliberation, the Board is excited to make the following announcements intended to make the certification, recertification, and exam processes easier for applicants, as well as maintain the financial sustainability of our program for years to come.
Exam and Technology/Membership Portal Updates: In 2020, the program administered its first exams using remote proctoring through ExamSoft, the exam administration software used by the program since 2017. Remote proctoring proved to be both a secure method of test administration as well as an incredible opportunity for paralegals from across the state to take the exam without needing to travel to a testing location, thereby saving time and money for paralegals. As a result of the success experienced with remote proctoring, the board approved the use of remote proctoring as our default method of exam administration (staff will still accommodate in-person test requests on an “as needed” basis). In 2024, the Board will administer exams in June and October to accommodate recent graduates seeking certification early in their new careers. Additional changes to exam schedules may be implemented based on experience in 2025. Stay tuned!
In 2021, the board – in cooperation with the State Bar – released the new membership portal for certified paralegals to apply and pay for recertification entirely online. This online application is also available to paralegals seeking certification. The positive feedback on our transition to an entirely online system has been overwhelmingly positive, and the board continues to pursue additional developments within the membership portal to make the certification and recertification process easier for everyone. Keep an eye out for more news on updates to the membership portal in 2024!
NEW, UNIFIED Recertification Period: Starting January 2024, all certified paralegals will have the same recertification deadline of July 1! Previously, certified paralegals had to recertify on one of two dates (January 1 or July 1). Unfortunately, having two recertification dates has lead to confusion on deadlines over the years. In an attempt to make things easier for everyone, the Board unanimously voted to move all certified paralegals to a single recertification deadline of July 1. Additionally, the Board is opening the recertification cycle in early January 2024 and will keep the recertification window open until July 1. This longer window provides certified paralegals with the flexibility to apply for recertification as soon as they are ready. The program will retain its 45 days grace period, with late fees assessed to those who fail to apply for recertification by August 15. Those who have not applied for recertification by October 1 will have their certification lapsed.
ALL certified paralegals can expect to receive an email notice in early January 2024 stating that the 2024 recertification window is open. To ensure all emails from the State Bar’s membership portal are properly delivered, make sure your email address is up-to-date in the State Bar’s membership portal and add the email address firstname.lastname@example.org as a “safe sender” in your email client/program. You can find more information about the new streamlined and flexible recertification timeline on the program’s website.
Increase in Certification Fees: The Board has charged certified paralegals $50 per year to maintain their certification since the inception of the program in 2005. Following extensive discussion and a unanimous vote by the Board, annual recertification fees will increase from $50 to $75, starting in 2024. This is the first increase in the program’s annual fees in over 18 years. Like everything else in the world, the program has experienced significant increases in administering the program; thanks to the sound financial management of the Board and staff, the program was able to avoid an increase in dues for nearly two decades. This increase is necessary to ensure the program’s financial sustainability and to permit the program to continue its efforts in improving the experience of and interaction between certified paralegals with the program.
The Board is grateful for your commitment to improving legal services in this state by remaining a certified paralegal. Any questions or concerns regarding these program updates or anything else related to the program can be directed to the program’s managing director Joy C. Belk (email@example.com).
We look forward to the new year and the upcoming changes. We hope you do as well.