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The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism

Road to NALA CP Exam: Am I the Obstacle to Moving Forward?

Last week my good friend and paralegal Patti Clapper, who also blogs at Patti’s Paralegal Page, sent me a direct message or DM (secret code for you can’t see the conversation, and you’re probably glad we’re not cluttering up the public Twitter stream with our chit-chat anyway) via Twitter, asking, “Have you sat for the NALA exam yet?”

I replied that my best-laid plans to seek the Certified Paralegal designation had been halted by other plans, mostly involving me saying “yes” to a lot of other plans.

While attempting to wrestle my over-flowing and slightly obnoxious personal Gmail account to the ground, I found an email from January of this year from my friend and paralegal Deana Waters, also one of my first guest bloggers, asking me to write an article about my CP/CLA study plan, and I found myself whining replying:

I appreciate the reminder – and feel like I’m disappointing you, but to be honest, I haven’t focused much on the NALA exam, and am actually planning to push back taking it. My youngest daughter has been hospitalized twice in the last six weeks, and hubby had surgery earlier this week with a recovery that’s not going so well. I also agreed to present a new ethics CLE which is going to be pretty work intensive for me, “Old Fashioned Ethics in a Newfangled World,” because I have to create a manuscript and PwrPt from scratch – and due next month!

And the rest of the year has pretty much continued along the same lines. I DM’d Patti back (secret code for I want to whine in private) and asked her for suggestions for preparing for the exam. It took a couple of DMs (like instant messaging if you’re still wondering what the heck I’m talking about) for me to add that I was thinking I might have to give up this blog to find the time to study.

Patti replied with the kick in the tail no-nonsense inspiration I need, emphasizing, “Blog v CLA exam…exam more important! Readers will understand if you don’t post as often…”

Then Patti (did I mention that she is the most awesome paralegal and friend ever?) DM’d me that she was awake in the wee hours thinking about me, and that she had the answer to my dilemma, “You should blog about your CLA exam prep!”

Um, I did, but maybe no one read my posts (see below)? That’s okay. You’re probably managing your time better and finding plenty of time to study for a national paralegal certification exam.

Seriously, Patti has me focused on how I can make the exam happen. Of course, I don’t want to give up Practical Paralegalism. You guys would also not believe the amount of reading I do outside of my day job to keep up with technology and new specialty areas for me – but the exam is important, too.

I may not be able to study like the proverbial hare streaking toward the finish line, but I’m going to have to make like that tried and true tortoise and get started toward the goal, even if it’s one slow step at a time.

How many of you are preparing now for a national paralegal certification exam? Any secrets to carving out the extra time to study when your personal and professional lives are already over-scheduled?

Related posts in my Road to NALA CP Exam Series
NALA’s Certified Paralegal Review Manual Now Available by eChapter
I Eat a Whole Humble Pie 
Flash Cards vs. Zombies
Could We Have Gone to Vegas?
I Score a Study Buddy
Can I Still Be Switzerland?
When, Where & How Much?
To Seek or Not to Seek NALA’s Certified Paralegal Credential?

13 Responses to Road to NALA CP Exam: Am I the Obstacle to Moving Forward?

  1. WOW, did I need this one! I have just finished 4 years of school while working fill-time (2 associate degrees, 1 paralegal and 1 Associate of Arts so it will be easier to finish a 4 year degree later) and my plan is to sit for the exam in January. I have just been so happy to be finished with exams that I keep putting off getting the study materials and buckling down. I want to be certified asap as my husband may not be able to find a job here in our area when he is finished with school and I feel that the little extra something that I would get from the certification will help me get a foot in doors that may otherwise have been closed to me.

    Thank you for being so candid…if you can make time with all that you do, then so can I!

  2. Hi Lynne! I graduated from paralegal school in 1992, I sat for the CP in 2010. I am a single mom of three children with a freelance business. I struggled with whether or not to take the CP exam and add more stress to my life. It was hard work, but it was totally worth it. I had to make sacrifices to carve out the time to prepare. I came up with a very detailed seven-week study plan for myself and stuck to it. The sacrifices I had to make were very temporary. The benefits of the CP designation and option to get an ACP are long lasting. I say go for it my friend! I would be glad to share my study plan with you if decide to do it.

  3. Misty ~ I'd love to see that study guide, although I'm thinking about breaking it into more of a six-month plan. I have some professional commitments ending in the next six months – I plan to remind myself to say to future invites, at least for a while, "Nope, I'm studying for the CLA exam!"

  4. Ohhh boy do I know what you mean. I, too, keep fooling myself in thinking that I'm too busy to start studying. I'm thinking that I'm just afraid of failing the test. I've always been a bad tester and avoidance seems to be the best way to not fail. It's not the best course of action though. I need help!!!!!!

  5. Lynne, you could probably ace that thing cold. And remember–it's pass/fail. There's no extra credit for getting all the answers perfectly right.

    What helped me most (back in the dark ages when there wasn't much study material available and no internet) was practicing my test-taking skills. Heck, I was taking Realtor practice tests because it was something I could find in the bookstore.

    It's not yet October. You can do this thing.

  6. Wendy, I realized when I took just one little section test that the problem is not going to be *not* knowing the answers – but figuring out the questions ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    You're right, fine-tuning my test-taking skills, loooooong rusty, is going to be one of the biggest challenges.

    But it won't be this October. One thing I have to do is honor a couple of professional commitments so I can clear my schedule for studying.

  7. Hi Misty! I will be taking he CLA/CP exam this Friday. Any pointers on how to approach the Memorandum question of the Judgment and Analytical Ability section of the exam??

  8. Lynne, you've hit the nail on the head. To quote myself: "As as paralegal, it's often not as much my job to know the answers as it is to make sure that the right questions are being asked."

  9. Misty, I'd love to hear the answer to Shelley's question, too! Any interest in doing a short guest post for Practical Paralegalism, Tips for Acing the Memorandum in the CLA J&A Section?

    But I know Shelley needs a short answer sooner ๐Ÿ˜›

    Good luck Shelley – after you pass the exam, I'd love a guest post from you such as "The 5 Best Steps I Took to Prepare for the CLA Exam" ๐Ÿ˜€

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workersโ€™ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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