Certified Paralegals Provide Added Value
Megan Yarashas is one of Gross McGinley’s certified paralegals in our Business Services Group, maintaining certification by both state and national paralegal associations. Recently, we sat down with Megan to discuss her career path as a Certified Paralegal and the benefits provided to both herself and Gross McGinley clients.
What led you to become a paralegal?
I’ve always been interested in the law and was considering attending law school after graduating from Penn State with a B.S. in Administration of Justice. Before spending money on additional education, I decided to try my hand as a paralegal to see if the work would be something I enjoy. I ended up taking to it quickly, finding that I enjoy drafting legal documents and learning new areas of the law.
What does it mean to be a certified paralegal?
Certification by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) has been acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of high professional achievement. Many are not familiar with the distinction between a paralegal certification and a paralegal certificate; they assume because they completed a training course, they are now certified. These courses do not guarantee a knowledge equivalent to the professional certification earned through an entity such as the NALA.
How do you feel clients benefit from Gross McGinley’s certified paralegals?
Having certified paralegals on staff shows a high standard of professionalism and legal acumen. According to the NALA, “Use of the [Certified Paralegal] credential signifies that a paralegal is capable of providing superior services to firms and corporations” and “National surveys consistently show [that] Certified Paralegals are better utilized in a field where attorneys are looking for a credible, dependable way to measure ability.”
What insights can you provide regarding the certification exam?
When I took my certification exam, it was proctored over the course of two days. The first day consisted of six to seven hours of testing. The second day lasted around four hours. I spent approximately nine months self-studying and taking mock exams in preparation. The exam itself consisted of several sections, including: Communications, Ethics, Judgement, and Analytical Ability. There were also nine Substantive Law sections of which we had to choose five on which to be tested. The exam has since changed and now only consists of two sections: Knowledge and Skills. Altogether the exam now takes about six hours in total.
What has been your involvement in paralegal associations?
I began my career in Pennsylvania. After moving to Florida, I became a Registered and Certified Paralegal. These certifications allowed me the opportunity to attend lunch and learn programs through the Hillsborough County Paralegal Association and, in the process, earn credit towards my required Continuing Legal Education (CLE). Upon returning to Pennsylvania and joining Gross McGinley, I joined the Lehigh County Paralegal Association (LCPA) and also certified myself through the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. Similar to my association in Florida, the LCPA also offers lunch and learn opportunities to earn CLE credits. I am required to earn 50 CLE credits over a five year period, five of which need to be ethics-based.
Megan is member of Gross McGinley’s 13-Paralegal team, all of whom are Pennsylvania Certified Paralegals.