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APC Measured by Individual Success
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Courses are well written and thorough. Terms and acronyms are explained in logical sequence, and links to forms and examples as they are being described are helpful.
Marge Dover, CAE
There are more than a hundred individual success stories measuring the success of NALA’s Advanced Paralegal Certification program since it was launched on July 19, 2006.
The first four paralegals to be designated Advanced Certified Paralegals (ACP) completed their online course work and supporting documentation when the program was barely a week old. They received their ACP certificates in a surprise presentation at NALA’s annual convention in Tampa on July 28.
Enthusiasm for the new program has created momentum resulting in more than 100 ACP awards before the end of 2006.
The new program has combined the expertise of paralegals, educators, legal authorities and technical experts. The change from an examination-based testing program to a curriculum-based self-directed learning and assessment process on the Internet has made advanced certification more “user friendly.”
Tita Brewster, NALA’s president for 2006–2007, was one of those first four to earn the “ACP” designation. Her remarks were typical of other participants’ evaluations of the program.
“Doing the course work was like being coached by a trusted team of mentors,” she said. “The studying and the testing were almost indistinguishable — if you did one, you were doing the other. My confidence and enthusiasm soared as I went through the course modules at my own pace.
“It was intensive, but I went through all the ‘modules’ on Discovery almost before I realized it, and the paperwork (the Learning Contract and Statement of Completion) was a breeze. I didn’t have to schedule a day away from work for a test.”
In addition to the Discovery curriculum, other advanced specialty courses in the first six months were Contracts Administration/Contracts Management, Social Security Disability, and Trial Practice. A full array of advanced courses, including Business Organizations, Land Use, and Personal Injury, will follow in 2007.
The need for this new program has grown as the paralegal work environment has become more specialized. Both employers and paralegals have expressed a desire for more focused specialty certification to meet real-world demands.
Everyone is encouraged to enroll in the program for continuing education, but passing the CLA/CP exam is prerequisite to receiving the ACP credential. The curricula are written with the understanding that candidates have a command of material covered in the CLA/CP exam. Each APC course lists knowledge that paralegals in specific practice areas should have before enrolling.
Enrollment also requires a “Learning Contract” which establishes a self-directed plan of study and learning by focusing on individual goals and learning objectives. Candidates are expected to actively engage with course content by working with a representative of the APC Board or knowledgeable colleagues, and by relating course concepts to actual job activities by talking with others who work in the specialty area.
The new program relies on integrity and honesty, and all candidates agree to abide by the NALA Code of Ethics. The credentialing process includes a notarized “Statement of Completion” addressing how the self-directed study enhanced and supported the goals set forth in the “Learning Contract.”
Each candidate must attest that work submitted as part of the program is their own — although seeking information from colleagues or a member of the APC Board is acceptable within the context of the program’s emphasis on learning. Upon fulfillment of the program, NALA notifies the candidates’ employers of courses completed, subjects studied, and the scrupulous learning discipline involved in achieving ACP certification.
The APC program is a major addition to NALA’s established suite of successful online educational programs such as NALA Campus and NALA Campus LIVE! All are measured by individual successes.
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