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Certification Q&A

Why should I obtain a national certification as a legal support professional?

For legal assistants, legal secretaries, and paralegals, professional certifications have become the standard of excellence that many employers demand. NALS certification exams provide a standardized assessment of your knowledge and abilities. Earning and maintaining your professional certification demonstrates to your prospective employers, colleagues and clients, that you are competent and capable.


 Are NALS certification exams recognized by any other associations?

Yes! NALS is recognized by numerous government and academic institutions.


Do I need a national certification to become a legal support professional?

Professional certifications for legal support professionals are entirely voluntary. In fact, many legal support professionals have enjoyed very long, successful careers without ever earning a professional designation. However, earning a nationally recognized credential is a sound investment and a great way to distinguish yourself within the legal support industry.


Do I need to prepare for NALS national certification exams?

National certifications, in any field, require thorough preparation. Our exam candidates often engage in our free national study hall series or engage in a study group with NALS members at the state or local level. The benefits of being nationally certified can outweigh the demands of preparing for our exams.


In addition to achieving your personal goal, passing a NALS certification exam can lead to a plethora of opportunities: promotions, increased salaries, job opportunities, and recognition by your superiors, colleagues,and the legal support industry.


Is your national certification the same as earning a certificate from an academic institution?

Our national certification exams are NOT the same as a paralegal certificate you would earn by taking courses through an institute of academia (e.g., college, university, or technical institute, etc.…). Academic certificates denote that you, the recipient, have attended the requisite courses and obtained the necessary credit hours in a subject or field of study.

For some institutions, earning a certificate in legal studies requires minimal credit hours (e.g., twelve to fifteen) to earn a certificate. While these certificates are an academic achievement in and of themselves, they do not demonstrate that you have mastered the concepts or skills required to be a legal support professional. 


 What is the career outlook & projected growth for the legal support industry? 

The following information was developed by The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please visit HERE for information regarding sources and studies.

Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. As law firms try to increase the efficiency of legal services and reduce their costs, they are expected to hire more paralegals and legal assistants. In these cases, paralegals and legal assistants can take on a “hybrid” role within the firm, performing not only traditional paralegal duties but also some of the tasks previously assigned to legal secretaries or other legal support workers.

Law firms also are attempting to reduce billing costs as clients push for less expensive legal services. Due to their lower billing rates to clients, paralegals can be a less costly alternative to lawyers, performing a wide variety of tasks once done by entry-level lawyers. This should cause an increase in demand for paralegals and legal assistants.

Although law firms will continue to be the largest employers of paralegals, many large corporations are increasing their in-house legal departments to cut costs. For many companies, the high cost of outside counsel makes it more economical to have an in-house legal department. This will lead to an increase in the demand for legal workers in a variety of settings, such as finance and insurance firms, consulting firms, and healthcare providers.

Due to the rise of electronic discovery, formally trained paralegals with strong computer and database management skills should have the best job prospects. 

 Employment projections data for paralegals and legal assistants, 2016-26

Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Paralegals and legal assistants

23-2011 285,600 327,400 15 41,800 employment projections excel documentxlsx

 What is the average income for a legal support professional?

The following information was developed by The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please visit HERE for information regarding sources and studies.

The median annual wage for paralegals and legal assistants was $50,410 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,130, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,180.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for paralegals and legal assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government


Finance and insurance


Local government, excluding education and hospitals


Legal services


State government, excluding education and hospitals


Most paralegals and legal assistants work full time. Some may work more than 40 hours per week in order to meet deadlines.

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