2012 Job Analysis Report


A report summarizing results of a major job analysis for the paralegal profession was released June 15, 2012.

Since 1986, NALA has conducted nationwide utilization and compensation surveys every two years. A portion of the survey looks at the duties and responsibilities of paralegals and later surveys have included a section used by the Certifying Board which presents the major areas of the Certified Paralegal examination and topics included within those areas. Respondents are asked to rate the importance of each skill/knowledge to their work and frequency of use of the skill/knowledge in their day to day work environment. The job task analysis study is conducted to:

  • Validate, and update as needed, the Certified Paralegal examination content specifications
  • Ensure that NALA has current information about the roles and responsibilities of paralegals

The survey was conducted by NALA in consultation with psychometric consultant Dr. Kurt Kraiger, Colorado State University, and Janice Moore, CEO, SeaCrest Consulting Company, LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina.

In February of 2012, an updated survey was released to NALA members and non-members who are included on our mailing list. The survey was sent electronically to more than 10,000 NALA members and non-members. There were 1,484 respondents for a 14 percent response rate, typical of surveys of this nature.

The survey consisted of three sections:
  1. Demographic information
  2. List of general skills and knowledge in the following categories:

    Legal research
    Judgment and analytical ability
    American legal system
  3. List of skills and knowledge specific to the following practice areas:

    Administrative law
    Business organizations
    Civil litigation
    Criminal law and procedure
    Estate planning and probate
    Family law
    Real Estate

to download the entire survey report, in pdf format.

The report includes tables summarizing findings for each exam section.

Overall the respondents are representative of the population of working paralegals. 95% of the respondents are female. Responses were received from 49 states. 71% identified themselves as being members of NALA and 75% reported being certified paralegals. The average years of certification were 11 and average years of work experience were 15. 84.7% reported being currently employed as a paralegal. 53% reported a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree as their highest level of education. With reference to paralegal training, 37% reported they completed an associate degree program; 9% reported completion of a bachelor degree paralegal program. Survey respondents were reminded that the knowledge expected for Certified Paralegals is that of recent graduates of paralegal programs who have little or no practice experience.

For ratings in the practice area section, respondents were instructed to complete the importance and frequency ratings only for those areas in which the respondent has worked or has knowledge. For all content areas a majority of the respondents indicated that the content was covered sufficiently.

In addition to the ratings of each item, respondents were asked to include comments about the exam subjects and suggest additional skills/knowledge the board may consider including in the tests.

The next detailed job tasks study is planned to be in six years unless there are fundamental changes in the nature of the job such as changes in state laws that affect paralegal responsibilities.


Houston Paralegal Association

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