Washington State Paralegal Association

Certified v Certification

Paralegals completing a recognized course of study, whether such program is approved by the American Bar Association or not, are properly referred to "Certificated" (not Certified) paralegals. This means that the educational program from which the paralegal graduated bestowed a Certificate of Completion, but there is no statewide proficiency examination required for entry into the paralegal profession that would "certify" competency.

To state that one is "Certified" implies that they are authorized in some way by an agency or other body of authority to perform certain work.  As noted above, there is not presently any agency in Washington State to "Certify" paralegals, so it is improper and misleading to identify oneself as a Washington State Certified Paralegal.

In Washington, paralegals typically work under the supervision of an attorney or under court rule or federal or state law authorizing such work. Washington law prohibits the practice of law without a license, and this includes persons purporting to be paralegals and providing legal and law-related services directly to the public. See General Rule 24 - Definition of the Practice of Law (GR 24) and Washington State Court Rules: Rules of Professional Conduct - Rule 5.3 - Responsibilities Regarding Non-lawyer Assistants (RPC 5.3).

Complaints about the unauthorized practice of law may be made to Washington’s Practice of Law BoardWSPA has no authority to regulate or oversee the actions of paralegals or to prohibit individuals from identifying themselves as paralegals whether or not WSPA deems such person as un-qualified.

Washington State Paralegal Association
1402 Lake Tapps Parkway SE
Ste. F104/PMB133
Auburn, WA. 98092



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