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WHY SHOULD YOU BECOME A

MINNESOTA CERTIFIED PARALEGAL?

Submitted by Lori Boris, RP®, MnCP

regulation@mnparalegals.org

In the first two months out of the gate, twenty-five (25) Minnesota paralegals have qualified and been granted permission to use the MnCP credentials.  This program is catching fire!  And still, those of us on the Regulation Committee are sometimes questioned by paralegals about why they should want to be MnCPs and whether any attorney will care if they have that designation or not.

I would propose to you that attorneys will come around once more and more paralegals realize the importance of being certified and set this standard for themselves.  So then, the question becomes: why should YOU care? 

Pride.  First of all, you should care about being a Minnesota Certified Paralegal because it says that you have met the standard of competence set out by the Minnesota Paralegal Association, the only professional association for paralegals in Minnesota.  Whether or not an attorney cares, you should be proud of the fact that you have met that standard of competence.

Career Paralegal.  Secondly, being a Minnesota Certified Paralegal evidences that you are a career paralegal – not only are you receiving a credential for education and experience already achieved, you are committing yourself to staying on top of your game by dedicating yourself to take 10 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) in a two-year period to renew your credential.  Making a commitment to stay on top of new legal developments and learn new skills says a lot about whether you take your career seriously.  Certainly attorneys should care about that!

Ethical Paralegals.  MnCPs are also required to take one hour of ethics training in every two-year period as part of their CLE requirement.  It's essential that paralegals become knowledgeable about the ethical issues that face them in their careers, and as a Minnesota Certified Paralegal, you are committing to becoming and staying educated about ethical considerations you may come up against as a paralegal.

Instant RecognitionWhen someone sees that you are a Minnesota Certified Paralegal, which they should be able to see from your e-mail signature block, your signature on letters, and your profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and maybe even Facebook, etc., they will instantly recognize, without evaluating your resume, that you have met the criteria set out by MPA to be awarded that credential. 

Employer Preference.  I'm not saying this is the situation yet in Minnesota, because right now, the MnCP is very new, and employers are still unsure about it.  I only know what's happened in Florida and North Carolina and other states that have had some form of voluntary certification for a while now.  Once employers begin to recognize that the top paralegals are Certified Paralegals, they begin to at least request that applicants for job openings be certified.  Once MnCP catches on, which has already started, the credential will start to mean more to employers. 

Great Marketing Tool for Law FirmsClients are becoming more savvy, and as law firms charge larger fees for paralegal services, clients naturally want to know that the services they receive are being performed by certified or registered paralegals.  In fact, one client of a former employer asked to see all the certification evidence of the paralegals employed there.  I believe the time may be coming when at least large corporations require that paralegal services on their cases be performed by certified paralegals.  And it's a great feather in your firm's cap if they can say that ALL their paralegals are Minnesota Certified Paralegals, or that they're all at least working toward that goal.

So – why should you become a Minnesota Certified Paralegal?  I hope this article has at least somewhat answered that question for you.  And as each of us becomes convinced of the value of becoming a Minnesota Certified Paralegal, we will show our employers how valuable it can be for them, as well. 

If you're ready to take the step of becoming certified, click here for the application, which contains the eligibility requirements.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact one of us on the Regulation Committee at regulation@mnparalegals.org, and we will do our best to answer them for you.

 

 
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