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Frequently asked questions about the paralegal certification program

Below are some frequently asked questions about completing the application and certification process. Keep in mind that these are general certification requirements. For specific requirements, please refer to the information and standards for the program available on the Paralegal Certification Web page in January.

What is the OSBA paralegal certification program?

If I am not a certified paralegal can I still call myself a paralegal?

I have been a paralegal for 15 or more years. Can I be “grandfathered” to become a certified paralegal?

What are the requirements to become an “OSBA Certified Paralegal”?

What is the time frame for counting my CLE hours, and what CLE courses count toward my certification?

How many professional references do I need to provide in my application?

Who can I use as a reference?

How do I prepare for the exam?

Is a study guide or review course for the exam available?

Who administers the exam, and where is it?

What is on the examination?

How do I apply?


What is the OSBA Paralegal Certification Program?
The OSBA paralegal certification program is a voluntary credentialing program for experienced paralegals that requires a high level of substantial involvement in the profession.

If I am not a certified paralegal can I still call myself a paralegal?
Yes, the OSBA certified paralegal program is a voluntary credentialing program.

I have been a paralegal for 15 or more years. Can I be “grandfathered” to become a certified paralegal?
No. You must meet minimum eligibility requirements and pass the written examination.

What are the requirements to become an “OSBA Certified Paralegal”?
There are five basic requirements:

1. Meet the OSBA definition of a paralegal.
A paralegal eligible for certification is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity, and who performs substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.

2. Meet education/experience requirements.
a. A bachelor’s degree in any discipline and satisfactory completion of a paralegal studies program consisting of at least 20 semester hours (or equivalent clock hours) and a minimum of one year full-time experience as a practicing paralegal (or its equivalent 2,000 hours); OR

b. A bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies consisting of at least 124 semester hours (or equivalent clock hours) and a minimum of one year full-time experience as a practicing paralegal (or its equivalent of 2,000 hours); OR

c. An associate’s degree in paralegal studies consisting of at least 60 semester hours (or equivalent clock hours) with a minimum of five years full-time experience as a practicing paralegal (or its equivalent of 10,000 hours); OR

d. A high school diploma or equivalent plus seven years full-time experience as a practicing paralegal (or its equivalent of 14,000 hours). 


3. Complete continuing legal and paralegal education.
Attendance at a minimum of 12 credit hours of continuing legal or paralegal education in courses approved by the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on CLE or the Ohio State Bar Association, the National Association for Legal Assistants or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations in the three years immediately preceding the application. At least two and a half credit hours of the 12 shall be in legal professionalism.

4. Provide references.
A minimum of three professional references, including two from attorneys in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio, who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s skills and work as a paralegal. The other reference may include attorneys, judges, magistrates, hearing officers, mediators, arbitrators and educators who have direct knowledge of the applicant’s skills and work as a paralegal.

5. Pass a written examination.
The applicant seeking certification must pass a written examination of suitable length and complexity. The written exam will include substantive and procedural law, legal research, ethics, communication and law office management. General testing competencies will include critical and analytical thinking, communication (both oral and written) and computer skills.

What is the time frame for counting my CLE hours, and what CLE courses count toward my certification?
Any approved CLE course taken in the three years prior to the application date will count toward certification.

How many professional references do I need to provide in my application?
A minimum of three professional references, including two from Ohio attorneys and one from either an attorney, judge, magistrate, hearing officer, mediator, arbitrator or educator who have direct knowledge of your skills and work as a paralegal.

Who can I use as a reference?
A qualified reference is someone who is familiar with your work as a paralegal and who is in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio. The reference may not be related to you.

How do I prepare for the exam?
Your day-to-day practice as a paralegal is your best study guide. Review which topic areas will be covered in the standards. Check the OSBA CLE schedule for courses that may be helpful. A paralegal with proper education, training and/or experience should be successful on the exam.

Is a study guide or review course for the exam available?
The OSBA will not provide one; however, other providers may supply study material.

Who administers the exam, and where is it?
The OSBA will administer the exam at its headquarters in Columbus.  The exam will be held on May 5, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

What is on the examination?
The exam will consist of approximately 100-120 multiple choice questions and will cover the following:

Legal procedure
25 percent of the examination

Legal ethics and professional conduct
20 percent of the examination

Substantive law
20 percent of the examination

Communication
15 percent of the examination

Legal research and writing
10 percent of the examination

Computer knowledge
5 percent of the examination

Law office management
5 percent of the examination

How do I apply?
Applications will be available on the Paralegal Certification Web page in January through March.

Contact OSBA


Headquarters:

1700 Lake Shore Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43204

Phone:

(800) 282-6556


Email:

OSBA@Ohiobar.org

Connect with OSBA


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