Category Archives:Paralegal

Santucci Priore, P.L. Senior Paralegal Joanna Lubczanska, ACP, FRP Receives Second Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP®) Credential in Advanced Law Area of Contract Management

On August 26, 2022, our firm’s senior paralegal Joanna Lubczanska, ACP, FRP received her second Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP®) credential in the advanced law area of contract management. Joanna earned her first ACP credential in October 2021 in the advanced law area of trial practice.

NALA The Paralegal Association’s Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP®) Program is designed to recognize a paralegal’s commitment to continued growth and life-long learning by advancing knowledge of specific areas of law. The distinguished ACP credential is onlyavailable to current Certified Paralegals. Applicants must successfully complete a rigorous course as well as the required knowledge and skills examination while maintaining Certified Paralegal (CP®) certification. Upon successful completion of the program, ACPs are certified to provide advanced paralegal services and entitled to the use of the designation ACP in connection with paralegal services offered in their specific area of study.

NALA’s Certified Paralegal (CP®) certification is the “national professional standard for paralegals,” “[a[cknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of excellence.” NALA

For over 45 years, NALA’s Certified Paralegal program has been recognized both nationally and internationally and has received recognition from both the National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the American Bar Association. On April 30, 2014, the NCCA granted accreditation to our program, making us the only accredited Certified Paralegal Program under its recognized organizations. Our CP credential has also been acknowledged by the American Bar Association as a mark of high professional achievement. With our acknowledgments, we pride ourselves on our professionalism while still maintaining lasting relationships with our certificants.


Becoming a NALA Certified Paralegal (CP) means an individual has successfully passed a rigorous examination of the knowledge necessary to be an effective paralegal. The voluntary CP program encourages the growth of the paralegal profession while also providing a proud achievement that comes with a career-long commitment. Established in 1976, the CP credential is key to respect and opportunity throughout the legal profession and is the national professional standard for paralegals.

Applicants must successfully pass the two-part Certified Paralegal comprehensive exam based on federal law and procedures. The multiple-choice Knowledge Exam must be passed before the applicant can take the essay-based Skills Exam. Successful completion of both the Knowledge and Skills Exams are required to obtain the Certified Paralegal credential. These exams have been compared to Bar exams for attorneys.

Joanna is also a Florida Registered Paralegal with The Florida Bar. A Florida Registered Paralegal (FRP) is a paralegal who has met the education, training, certification and work experience required for voluntary registration as set forth in Chapter 20 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar. 

She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Studies, summa cum laude, in 2007 at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she aided her professor, Robert N. Diotalevi, by contributing to a paralegal textbook: Statsky, William P., Robert N. Diotalevi, and Pamela McCoy Linquist. The Florida Paralegal: Resource Guide. Clifton Park: Delmar, 2009. Print.

Joanna also earned an A.S. degree with the Highest Honors in Legal Assisting in 2003, and received a Legal Assisting Society Scholarship. She also earned degrees in Fashion Design (with a Special Award Achievement for Best Jewelry), and Computer Graphics and Design.

CP® and ACP® are certification marks of NALA.

What can paralegals do to improve their chances of working at a law firm they want to work at?

Conduct some research on the firm at which you seek employment. Some of what you would be asked to do when you are working for a law firm is conduct factual, and legal research. Demonstrating that ability at an interview is impressive. Furthermore, you can ask more intelligent questions about the firm if you have some information in advance. It also shows that you cared enough about the job opportunity to do some searching and reading, and that apparently you think you are a good fit for the firm. You should at least know the areas of practice of a law firm walking into an interview. If you are interviewing and you don’t know whether the firm does personal injury or tax law, you will be embarrassing yourself. You should also know enough not to ask to meet the senior partner who died years ago.

Focus your resume, cover letter and interview on your relevant experience. Nothing impresses a hiring manager or partner more about a paralegal than relevant experience. Show that you have been in the trenches, and that you understand their specific environment and what will be expected of you right away. Show that you can hit the ground running on your first day once you are assigned a computer password. As a hiring partner of my law firm, I am far more impressed by experience than with educational achievements and paralegal degrees. I mainly want to know: 1) What have you done; 2) Where have you worked; and 3) Who trained you. If you don’t have the experience, expect to be offered a lower salary. If you will receive significant training and experience at the firm, it is well worth the pay cut. Even intern for minimum wage if the right training, opportunities and experience are put within your reach.

Use social media in a smart way. If you are applying for a job at a law firm, or seeking to work in any professional environment, or the public sector, remove the party shots from your Facebook page – No trashy club photos with your friends holding drinks, no glamor shots, no overtly promiscuous images. It is commonplace for prospective employers to search for you online and view your public photos, blog posts, etc. Employers are looking for people that represent the image of their law firm, in which real people and real companies place their trust for their most sensitive of matters. Clients of law firms will be less than impressed with questionable photos of the paralegal assisting with their cases, and are not impressed with how hot you look on the weekends, or what you like to drink. This is what a hiring partner will be thinking about when (s)he sees those photos. Therefore, do a search on yourself, scrub all websites over which you have control, and create a very professional Linked In profile or other form of online professional resume. …and be sure to include a photo, but one that is professional and puts your best foot forward. Keep your weekends private.

Create a good resume and cover letter. As a paralegal, you will be writing, reading, formatting and organizing. Your only opportunity to actually demonstrate those skills is in your resume and cover letter (online or otherwise). Be sure they are flawless – Impeccable – Absolutely perfect. Show the prospective employer what their documents are going to look like if they hire you. Avoid clichés and overly wordy statements also. Show that you can get right to the point and that you understand what information is relevant and what is meaningless, fluff and duplicative. Your resume should be intelligently formatted and organized so that it is very easy to read the pertinent information. Show that you already know what the employer wants to know, but serving it up in a very easy to read, easy to reference format. Use intelligently worded, but simple, short headings and bullet points under. Look at many other resume styles before you pick yours. No fancy fonts or catchy colors. Keep yours clean, conservative, clear and concise. That is what law firms want.

Michael I. Santucci
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Managing Partner

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