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Starting Your Paralegal Career Journey

Hispanic woman typing on laptop with law books on her background
The American legal drama Suits has pulled up the status of paralegals all over the country and even around the world. In the series, the struggles of being a paralegal were put in the spotlight. The show revealed that the journey to being a paralegal is not easy.

It might not be easy, but it certainly is not impossible. The first step is to have a paralegal degree, whether you get it through an online course or in a classroom. But, before doing so, it is also as important to know the difference between a paralegal certificate and having paralegal certification.

Paralegal Certificate

A paralegal certificate is something you obtain from studying and completing academic requirements.If you enrolled in a school, took a paralegal course, and completed it, you are issued a paralegal certificate. Having this certificate does not make one a “certified” paralegal.

Paralegal Certification

A certification is a formal recognition from an institution proving that an individual has met the established requirement for a position. Thus, a paralegal certification requires that you take an exam to become a certified paralegal.
There are several organizations that offer certification exams. The National Association of Paralegals (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the NALS Association for Legal Professionals are just among the numerous organizations in the United States that give certification.

However, it is important to note that the country does not require mandatory certification for an individual to practice the profession. Requirements to be able to obtain certification usually includes having a paralegal certificate from a reputable paralegal educating institution, completion of required work experience, and having acceptable performance in qualifying examination.

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Certified Paralegal

Once a paralegal has met all the certification requirements, then he can be recognized as a certified paralegal. You could try to apply for work in law firms and even businesses that have a legal department.