Professional Legal Secretary (PLS)

How do your skills compare with the hallmark of a professional? PLS® is the designation for lawyer’s assistants who want to be identified as exceptional. Certification is received after passing a one-day, four-part examination which demonstrates not only dedication to professionalism but acceptance of the challenge to be exceptional. Personal motivation is necessary to attain such a goal.

The purpose of the examination is to certify a lawyer’s assistant as a person who possesses:

  • a mastery of office skills
  • the ability to interact on a professional level with attorneys, clients, and other support staff
  • the discipline to assume responsibility and exercise initiative and judgment, and
  • a working knowledge of procedural law, the law library, and how to prepare legal documents.

PLS Examination Eligibility

Any person who has had three years of experience in the legal field may take the examination. Membership in NALS is not a requirement. A partial waiver of the three-year legal experience requirement may be granted for post-secondary degrees, successful completion of the ALS exam, or other certifications. The maximum waiver is one year.

The PLS Certification Exam Covers

  • PART 1: Written Communications
  • PART 2: Office Procedures and Technology
  • PART 3: Ethics and Judgment Skills
  • PART 4: Legal Knowledge and Skills

Examination Guidelines

All four parts of the examination must be taken on the first attempt. If you do not pass the entire examination on the first attempt, but do pass one or more parts, you may retake the part (or parts) you failed. All failed parts must be retaken at the same time. Those passing the exam will receive a certificate which is valid for five years. Re-certification is required every five years and may be achieved through the accumulation of continuing legal education hours and activities.

Examination Dates Each Year

  • March: Last Saturday in March
  • September: Last Saturday in September

Application Deadlines

  1. March: Postmarked by January 1
  2. September: Postmarked by August 1

Apply Online | PLS Application (PDF format) |  Apply For Exam Retake

Examination Fees

Initial Fees

  • NALS member — $175
  • Nonmember – $225
  • Military Member — $150
  • Military Nonmember — $200

Retake Fees – 1 part

  • NALS member — $50
  • Nonmember — $60
  • Military Member — $40
  • Military Nonmember — $50

Retake Fees – 2 or more parts

  • NALS member — $150
  • Nonmember — $200
  • Military Member — $150
  • Military Nonmember — $200

Transfer/Refund Policy

If you are unable to sit for the examination at your chosen time, you may transfer to another examination date by paying a $50 transfer fee and by making the request no later than two weeks prior to the test date. If you are unable to sit for the examination at any time following submission of your application, the entire fee, less a 25% processing fee, may be refunded if requested 30 days or more before the scheduled examination date. If you are unable to sit for the examination after transferring to another examination date, no refund will be given nor will additional transfers be allowed.

Preparing for the Exam

  • Click here to view required study materials.
  • NALS Bookstore – Information on text books and mock exams to help you prepare.
  • NALS Online Study Group – To assist those preparing for their exams, NALS will hold a series of WebEd sessions with coverage over all parts of the exam, as well as exam specific reviews for the ALP, PLS, and the Professional Paralegal (PP). The series will wrap up with a general session over test taking tips.
  • NALS Basic or Advanced Legal Training Course – Many states and local chapters sponsor the NALS Legal Training Course. This course emulates a classroom study style in preparing for the exam. Check the NALS Calendar for an upcoming course in your area.