The criteria and guidelines to maintain valid ALP, PLS/CLP, and PP certifications are established and monitored by the NALS Certifying Board. Criteria and guidelines may be changed from time to time in order to correspond with the five-year cycle of changes in education. NALS retains the right to make changes to the recertification process or criteria. Changes to the recertification process or criteria will be published in official publications of the association. Below are frequently asked questions.
What is recertification?
Recertification literally is the act of having one’s certification renewed. NALS considers recertification to be continuing one’s education in the legal field by obtaining continuing legal education credit hours. Recertification is required every five years. (The validity period for certification is indicated on the certificate issued when the examinee passes an exam or on the most recent recertification certificate. The recertification renewal date may also be found in the Professional Development section of your online member profile.) There are three categories of recertification:
- Mandatory Recertification: The first category, mandatory recertification, applies to all ALPs, PLSs/CLPs, and PPs who are currently employed or seeking employment. (PLS recertification is required for those earning certification as of March 1994 or thereafter.)
- Voluntary Recertification: The second category, voluntary recertification, is recommended and encouraged for those achieving PLS certification prior to March 1994. PLSs who voluntarily recertify must meet the same requirements and established criteria as for mandatory recertification. The first time an applicant recertifies under voluntary recertification, the recertification period will end five years from the date of recertification by NALS. After the first recertification, the recertification period runs five years from the end of the prior recertification period.
- Emeritus: The third category is Emeritus. Emeritus status is available to the following: (1) certified PLSs/CLPs or PPs who are 55 years of age or older who are retired from employment in the legal services field; and (2) certified PLSs/CLPs or PPs who are permanently disabled. A letter requesting Certified PLS/CLP or PP Emeritus status may be submitted to NALS. If Emeritus status is being requested because of a permanent disability, proof of disability should also be submitted. Upon notification of approval of Emeritus status, the Certified PLS/CLP or PP will not be required to accumulate points to recertify. If a Certified PLS/CLP or PP returns to work in the legal field, the Emeritus status is invalidated. PLSs/CLPs or PPs who previously fell under mandatory recertification will have five years within which to recertify from the date of reemployment.
Why do I need to become recertified?
Recertification is required because of the ever-changing profession to which we belong. Laws, rules, and regulations are continuously changing, and by requiring recertification, NALS ensures that certified professionals remain up to date with current legal practices.
- Alternate designation option available for Certified PLS -
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. There is a processing fee to change your designation to CLP and to receive your new certificate if you wish to do so prior to recertification (Certificate Reprint). The press release can be read by clicking here.
What are the requirements to become recertified?
In order to maintain certification as an ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP, applicants must accumulate the required number of education credits:
- ALP: A total of 50 hours of CLE credits are required in order to recertify.
- PLS/CLP: A total of 75 hours of CLE credits are required in order to recertify.
- PP: A total of 75 hours of CLE credits are required in order to recertify—a minimum of 50 hours on substantive areas, a minimum of 5 hours on ethics, and a maximum of 20 hours on other areas.
You can follow these three easy steps to recertify:
- Earn Recertification Points: You can participate in educational activities to earn points toward recertification. See Recertification Modules (bottom of page) for details about which educational activities earn points. Appropriate educational topics include those that reflect the substantive nature of a legal professionals' work, enhance knowledge of the profession, update knowledge of the law, or relate to the examination; including, but not limited to, procedural and communications skills, legal research and citations, law office procedures, technology, ethics and judgment, grammar, and other law-related topics.
- Documentation to Send to NALS: At any time prior to the expiration of your current validity period, submit the following to the Resource Center:
- Recertification Application
- Recertification Affidavit
- Copy of your Certification Journal Transcript OR original certificates/documentation pertaining to education credits
- Payment ($75 for PLS/CLP/PP, $50 for ALP)
The Resource Center will accept applications prior to the expiration of the fifth year following certification. Acceptance of early recertification submissions will not affect the recertification period. Education credits may not be accrued during the current validity period for the next period. Credits earned during that period may not be included in the next recertification application.
What do I get when I recertify?
Upon receipt by the Resource Center of your completed recertification application, affidavit, fee, and the appropriate education certificates or documentation, you will receive evidence of recertification in the form of a certificate.
Who else is notified of my recertification?
Notification regarding individual recertification will be provided only to NALS publication editors for purposes of association-wide publicity.
What happens if I do not choose to recertify or if I do not recertify within my five-year recertification period?
If an individual voluntarily chooses not to recertify, the certification designation will be valid until such time that the current validity period expires. After the period expires, the individual is to remove the certification designation and is requested to no longer use the designation Certified ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP. If asked, the NALS Certification Manager will state that the certification validity has expired.
If a Certified ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP comes to the realization that they did not recertify within their five-year recertification period and desires to maintain their certification, the Certified ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP must immediately contact the NALS Certification and Education Manager and provide a written account of why the certification was not renewed. The NALS Certification and Education Manager, together with the Certifying Board, will review the circumstances surrounding the non-recertification on a case-by-case basis. Depending upon the information presented and the circumstances surrounding the lapse in recertification, a grace period may be granted for the Certified ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP to recertify. If the Certified ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP is granted a grace period to recertify and does not do so within the time period given, the certification shall become invalid and the designation will be removed from the individual’s record.
In the event the ALP, PLS/CLP, or PP designation becomes invalid, it will be necessary for the individual to retest.
Whom can I contact if I still have questions?
You may contact the Certification and Education Manager at the NALS Resource Center by telephone at (918) 582-5188, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fax at (918) 582-5907.