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Professional Legal Secretary / Certified Legal Professional
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PLS/CLP CertificationHow do your skills compare with the hallmark of a professional? PLS® and/or CLP® 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.

In order to more fully embrace the diversity of legal professionals entering the workforce and provide those individuals with certifications reflecting that diversity, NALS has adapted the name of its Professional Legal Secretary certification to include the optional designation of Certified Legal Professional (CLP). Persons who attain or have attained this certification may use either the PLS or CLP designation. The press release can be read by clicking here.

PLS and/or CLP 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 ALP exam, or other certifications. The maximum waiver is one year.

The 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. There is a two year limit in which to retest.

Those passing the exam will receive a certificate which is valid for five years. Recertification is required every five years and may be achieved through the accumulation of continuing legal education hours and activities.


Examination Dates

  • March Exam Period: First Saturday in March
  • September Exam Period: Last Saturday in September 

Application Deadlines

  • March Exam Period: January 15, 2017
  • September Exam Period: August 1, 2017


Examination Fees

Initial Fees

  • NALS member – $175
  • Nonmember – $225
  • Military (verification required) — $175

Retake Fees 

  • NALS member — $50/per part
  • Nonmember — $60/per part
  • Military (verification required) — $50/per part


- Military members, please contact NALS to receive promo code for the rates above. 


Testing Locations

All NALS certification exams must be administered by a certified PLS/CLP or PP or an individual who is employed as a full-time educator at the post-secondary level, with the approval of NALS Certification/Education Manager. Should an individual who is NOT a certified PLS/CLP or PP wish to administer an exam, he/she will not be allowed to sit for either the PLS/CLP or PP for a period of three years from the date of the last exam he/she administered. All exam administrator will be required to sign a confidentiality statement. If you would like an individual to be approved to administer an exam please have them complete the Certification Exam Administrator form.
Once an examinee submits an exam application indicating preferred location a testing location will be arranged at that time. There are no set testing locations. If a testing location cannot be secured the Certification/Education Manager will contact the examinee to discuss alternative arrangements.


Refund Policy 

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. Cancellations after this period will forfeit full amount of registration. No transfers will be allowed. 



PLS/CLP Certification Applications/Waivers

Item Name Posted By Date Posted
NALS Certification Resource Manual Link  more ] Administration 3/3/2016
Online PLS Exam Application - September 2016 Link  more ] Administration 11/2/2015
Online PLS Exam Application - March 2017 Link  more ] Administration 1/18/2016
PLS/CLP Exam Application (PDF Format) PDF (211.14 KB)  more ] Administration 3/10/2016
Application for Partial Waiver (PDF Format) PDF (83.46 KB)  more ] Administration 3/10/2016
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