Webster’s dictionary defines “paralegal” as “a paraprofessional, or trained aide, who assists a lawyer.” Presently, confusion exists as to what constitutes a “paralegal.” Some law firms refer to all of their assistants as “paralegals,” regardless of their qualifications and experience. Other firms bestow the title upon a certain few. And still other firms do not recognize the term at all.

In an effort to establish a standard for those who are interested in the integrity and future of the paralegal profession, and in response to certain states that are considering regulation of the paralegal profession, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations Inc. (“NPFA”) has developed a method to measure job competency. It is known as the Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (“PACE”) and is offered to paralegals who have a minimum of two years work experience and meet specific educational requirements. The exam is comprised of two stages or tiers:

  • Tier I: General and ethics questions (certain sections may be state specific, when available).
  • Tier II: Specialty sections.

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