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NALA CP Exam: Why You Shouldn’t ‘Wing It’

Obtaining certification has become an important way for paralegals to distinguish themselves from their job-seeking competition. More and more employers are looking for people who have met established standards that they can immediately put to work with confidence.

In turn, paralegals across the country are turning to certification from either NALA (Certified Paralegal Exam) or the NFPA CORE Competency or Advanced Competency Exams.

Especially if they have relevant work experience, many paralegals think they can dive right in to the various certification exams without any real review.

They might think that ethics, communications, and judgment are more or less common sense, and that their experience with legal research and substantive law will allow them to ace those sections.

But the data tells a very different story.

Below is a look at how the NALA CP exam is divided, and what percentage of test-takers passed each section.

 

NALA exam breakdown

Examination Name

Total Points

Communications

75

Ethics

75

Judgment and Analytical Ability

150

Legal Research

50

Substantive Law

200

 

NALA exam student performance

Examination Name

Passing % January 2015

Passing % May 2015

Passing % September 2015

Communications

55%

60%

51%

Ethics

65%

58%

60%

Legal Research

69%

70%

69%

Substantive Law

54%

60%

54%

Judgment & Analytical Ability

57%

36%

67%

Here’s a further breakdown of the content of each section.

Communications

% of points

Grammar, punctuation, and capitalization

19%

Word usage, spelling, and vocabulary

17%

Written correspondence and composition

17%

Verbal communication

17%

Nonverbal communication

16%

Client and witness interview preparation and techniques

13%

Ethics

% of points

Ethical responsibilities centering on performance of delegated work

21%

Paralegal professional responsibility

21%

Professional relationships

21%

Client and public contact

19%

Attorney code of ethics and discipline

17%

Legal Research

% of points

Sources of law

34%

Research skills

32%

Analysis of research

34%

Substantive Law

% of points

Legal terminology

7%

Court system

6%

Sources and classifications of law

6%

Branches of government

5%

Legal concepts and principles

5%

Remedies and dispute resolution

5%

Jurisdiction and venue

6%

Civil litigation process and rules

6%

Civil discovery

6%

Civil pleadings

6%

Civil trial and appellate process and rules

6%

Corporations

5%

Publicly-held corporations

4%

Partnerships and limited liability companies (LLCs)

4%

Other business entities

5%

Financial structure and management of business entities

5%

Contract classifications

4%

Contract formation

5%

Contract defenses

4%

Contract remedies

5%

Judgment and Analytical Ability

% of points

Identification of relevant facts and main issues

26%

Application of law to facts

24%

Analysis of issues and formation of conclusions

25%

Organization of information and clarity of expression

25%


As you can see, many people who took the exam probably should have done more preparation. If you're thinking about getting certified but not planning on taking a formal review course --- we urge you to reconsider. Whether it's here with us with our $189 review course or elsewhere, please adequately prepare! You'll be thankful that you did.


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