Before, during or after a paralegal degree program, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with paralegal associations. These organizations provide news, trainings, certifications and events that can help paralegals advance in their careers. Three large national organizations are listed below, but researching your local organizations and chapters is also recommended.
National Federation of Paralegal Associations
Founded in 1974, the NFPA was the first national paralegal association. It is dedicated to promoting the paralegal profession, supplying valuable information and services to members and supporting continuing education in the profession. The association provides the Registered Paralegal (RP) certification for professionals who meet admission criteria and pass the PACE exam.*
National Paralegal Association
The NPA is an international organization offering benefits and services to many different positions in the legal system. The membership options include Pre-Student and Student, which makes it a good choice for individuals just starting out in the paralegal profession. The NPA produces many publications including a Career Guide, Legal Publishers Directory and Legal Placement Agency Directory.
National Association of Legal Assistants
NALA is a non-profit organization providing continuing education and professional development programs for both novice and experienced paralegals. The organization provides three different certifications: Certified Legal Assistant, Certified Paralegal, and Advanced Paralegal Certification. The CLA and CP certifications can be earned through various combinations of education and experience, along with passing a two-day exam. The APC is a curriculum-based program offered on the internet for experienced paralegals who want to specialize in a certain area.1
1Westwood prepares graduates for certification. Graduates wishing to attain certification must take and pass any applicable test/exams.