If you want to become a paralegal or a legal assistant, you should become certified. Certification is not legally mandated by any of the states. However, a professional certification will help to further your career and make you look more professional. Preparing for the CLA Exam (Certified Legal Assistant Exam) can be a daunting task. However, the NALA (National Association of Legal Assistants) who administers the test also offers several ways to help people prepare for it.
The NALA has published several helpful books and offers a few online study programs. In addition, there are several local study groups who are affiliated with the NALA. Interested applicants can look for a study group in their area to join.
The following is a list of books that the NALA has prepared to help applicants study for the CLA exam:
• NALA Manual for Paralegals, by NALA members
• Certified Paralegal Study Guide and Mock Exam, by NALA members
• Certified Paralegal Exam Review Manual, by Virginia Koerselman
You can purchase these books from the NALA or from any major online retailer like Amazon
If you prefer to study online, you can enroll in one of the online programs offered by NALA. They offer several self study programs that address different issues that will be covered on the CLA exam. You can study these topics at any time of the day or night. The topics include the United States Legal System, Civil Litigation, Contract Law, Ethics, Legal Analysis and Research, Real Estate Law, and Written Communication.
These programs contain a mixture of written text, slides, and audio recordings. They also contain sample tests of the material so that you can assess your strong and weak areas. These programs are a fun and efficient way to ascertain what areas you need to brush up on before taking the actual CLA exam.
The other NALA internet study programs are live web programs. These programs last an hour and a half to two hours. They include slide shows and conference calls. These programs are offered from February to May and again from August to November. Each full session covers about 30 courses. Here is a sample list of the courses that may be offered:
• The Legal System in America
• An Introduction to Basic Business Organizations
• Civil Law and Litigation
• Legal Research
• Written Communication
If you prefer to study with a class of like-minded students, you can bypass the web-based programs and enroll in one of the NALA live programs. There is a short course that consist of a day and a half of instruction. This is offered in many cities sometimes every year during late October or early November. Aternatively you may enroll in the NALA essential skills seminar. This class is offered annually during the NALA annual convention. It covers the same topics as the other courses that have been mentioned.
Preparing for the CLA Exam can be fun. When you choose one or all of the study programs offered by the NALA, you ensure that you will be ready for the exam. Once you pass it, you can look forward to starting a great career.