CLA Exams


The CLA Specialty program began in 1982. The first two examinations were in the areas of Civil Litigation and Probate and Estate Planning. In 1984, the Corporations/Business and Criminal Law and Procedure examinations were first offered. In 1987, a Real Estate specialty examination was offered for the first time. Bankruptcy followed in 1992; and Intellectual Property in 1995.

The Program

The Certified Legal Assistant program was established in 1976. It has enabled the legal assistant profession to develop a strong and responsive self-regulatory program offering a nationwide credential for legal assistants. Today over 15,000 paralegals have achieved this credential. 

The Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) Examination is a comprehensive, two-day examination based upon federal laws and rules of civil procedure. An examination fee is required and all applicants must meet clearly defined eligibility requirements in order to qualify to take this nationally recognized exam. 

The Certified Paralegal examination is divided into five sections. A minimum passing score of 70% is required on all five sections in order to earn the Certified Paralegal credential.

Examinees are asked to demonstrate knowledge by responding to true/false, multiple choice and matching questions requiring knowledge of the subject and reading comprehension skills. Analytical skills and writing abilities are further tested by essay questions. The sections of the examination are as follows:

Judgment & Analytical Ability
Legal Research
Substantive Law – This section consists of five mini-examinations covering the American Legal System and four (4) of the areas listed below as selected by examinees:
Administrative Law
Business Organizations
Civil Litigation
Criminal Law and Procedure
Estate Planning and Probate 
Family Law
Real Estate

The examination is given three times a year: September, January, and May.
The upcoming Testing Dates are as follows:

January 1-31 with an application filing deadline of December 1.
Late Application Filing Deadline (With $25 late filing fee): December 10.
May 1-31 with an application filing deadline of April 1.
Late Application Filing Deadline (With $25 late filing fee): April 10.
September 1-30 with an application filing deadline of August 1.
Late Application Filing Deadline (With $25 late filing fee): August 10.

For further information on the testing dates and deadlines, please go to

NALA also offers information about examination topics and available study materials. This information is also available on their website.

CLAS – CLA Specialty Examinations
If you have achieved the CLA credential, you may seek advanced certification in specialty practice areas.
The following areas are currently available:
Civil Litigation
Corporations/Business Law
Criminal Law and Procedure
Estate Planning and Probate
Intellectual Property
Real Estate

Each of these is a four-hour examination written to test specialized knowledge of the practice area. The testing dates and application deadlines are the same as those for the CLA exam.

For further information, please go to