The Road to Becoming a California Certified Legal Secretary (“CCLS”)

Are you thinking about becoming a California Certified Legal Secretary (“CCLS”)?  There are many benefits to becoming a CCLS, and they are as follows:

  • Qualify for professional, personal, and economic reward.
  • Improve your knowledge of California legal practice and procedure.
  • Broaden your opportunities for job advancement.
  • Enhance your self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Gain further recognition and respect within the legal environment.

Overall, it is a great feeling of accomplishment and we encourage you to broaden your horizons and take it a step further in your career.

What You Need to Know About Becoming a CCLS

Who is eligible to take the exam?

Any person, who has a minimum of two (2) years’ full-time experience as a legal secretary, or equivalent as approved by the Certifying Board, may apply to take the examination. Membership in Legal Secretaries, Incorporated, is not a requirement to sit for the examination.

When is the exam?

The examination is given in March and September each year on a date to be determined by the Board, generally on the third Saturday of the month.

Is there a deadline to submit my application?

Completed applications must be received by the Board sixty (60) days prior to the examination date. The Board shall acknowledge to the applicant receipt of such application within two (2) weeks following the deadline. Applicants are expected to notify the Board no later than thirty (30) days before the examination date of their inability to be present to take the examination and request a deferment. Applications and requests to defer due to extenuating circumstances received after the thirty (30) day deadline will be considered by the Board on a case-by-case basis.

What kind of exam will it be?

Beginning September 2021, the examination will be given electronically via  Examinees will be able to take the exam from any location as long as there is access to the internet with a web-camera and audio capabilities. 

What does the exam cover?

The examination covers the following areas:

  1. Ability to Communicate Effectively. Measures proficiency in written communications, including grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage, and sentence struct
  2. California Legal Procedures. Tests California-specific legal practice and procedural knowledge relating to civil procedure/litigation, real estate, probate and estate planning, corporate law, and family law.
  3. Skills. Tests ability to use legal knowledge effectively and readily in the execution or the performance of specific assignments, including those related to Judicial Council and other legal forms, and to perform accurate proofreading as required for the legal field. The fields of law that will be covered in Skills are family law, civil litigation, probate, corporations, and real estate. 
  4. Legal Computations. Tests knowledge of computations relating to litigation, real estate, probate and estate planning, corporation, and family law, as well as calendaring, court fees, and basic math skills and computations as used in a law office.
  5. Legal Terminology. Measures knowledge and application of legal terms, California citations, proper abbreviations, and legal resource
  6. Law Office Administration. Measures knowledge of records control, including filing procedures, computer technology, techniques, personnel management, formatting of business and legal documents, and notary public procedure
  7. Reasoning and Ethics. Reasoning verifies the ability to evaluate facts and situations logically and to reach rational conclusions. Ethics tests understanding of accepted professional standards of conduct, including accounts management in a law office and notary public issue.

What about retaking a certain section?

  1. To qualify for a partial retake of the examination (other than a retake of all seven (7) sections), a minimum of four (4) sections must be passed at one sitting of the examination. The remaining three (3) or fewer sections may be retaken upon submission of an application and payment of the retake fee. Partial retake applicants have up to six (6) consecutive regularly scheduled examination dates (three (3) years after the passing the minimum four (4) sections) to pass all the remaining failed sections before the entire examination must be taken again. All failed sections must be retaken at the same time.
  2. The deadline for submission of a retake examination application is sixty (60) days before the examination date, or the same as for the complete (full) examination application.
  3. Retake applicants are expected to notify the Board at least thirty (30) days before the application deadline date of their inability to sit for the retake examination.

What are the fees?

The following fees have been adopted by the Board for LPI members and non- LPI members:

Make checks payable to “LPI” LPI MEMBERS NON-LPI MEMBERS
  Registration fee $  25 $  75
  Examination fee $100 $100
  Total Application fee: $125 $175
  Partial Retake fee $  60 $  70
  Deferral fee $  45 $  45

The appropriate fees made payable to “LPI,” must be paid each time the complete examination application or retake application is submitted.  For instance, if the applicant fails to pass the minimum four sections, the complete application fee of $125 or $175, respectively, must be paid again if the applicant is to sit for the full examination.  If the applicant is applying to retake one or more failed sections only, the retake fee of $60 or $70, respectively, must be paid to sit for the failed section(s). The requisite fees must accompany the application.

Are there any late fees?

If an applicant, after registering for the full examination or partial retake and paying the appropriate application fees, wishes to postpone taking the full examination or partial retake examination on the date stated in the application to the next examination date, the applicant must notify the Board no later than thirty (30) days before the examination date of their inability to be present to take the examination and request a deferment form, and then submit a completed deferral application and a $45 deferral fee to the Board prior to the commencement of the full examination or partial retake examination the applicant was scheduled to take. The granting of a deferral by the Board will not, in any case, extend an applicant’s time to pass all seven (7) sections of the examination beyond seven (7) consecutive regularly scheduled examination dates. In every instance where an applicant fails to take any section of the examination for which the applicant is registered, and no deferral application and deferral fee are submitted prior to commencement of the examination, the applicant forfeits all fees previously paid.

Late applications may be accepted up to thirty (30) days prior to an examination date if submitted with a $45 late fee in addition to the application fees if space is available. Applications and requests to defer due to extenuating circumstances received after the thirty (30) day deadline will be considered by the Board on a case-by-case basis.

What about refunds?

Refunds of the examination fee will be made if requested prior to sixty (60) days before the examination. Refunds after that time will be made for emergency reasons only. The registration fee is non-refundable.

How is the exam scored?

A candidate may pass the examination in two ways: (1) if the overall score (the combined score for all seven (7) sections) is seventy-five percent (75%) or better, or (2) if each individual section is passed with a score of seventy percent (70%) or better (retakes allowed if four (4) or more sections passed at one sitting).

Time Limit: All seven (7) sections must be passed within seven (7) consecutive, regularly-scheduled examination dates.

How soon will I receive my results?

The examination will be graded within six (6) weeks of the test date and the results electronically mailed to the candidates.

Please visit the LPI website at for further information.

CCLS Recertification

Did you know that once you become a California Certified Legal Secretary (“CCLS”), you must complete 15 hours of continuing legal education within a 3-year period to maintain your certification?  Yes, every 3 years you must submit proof of attendance of at least 15 hours of continuing education to the CCLS Certifying Board, along with your Application for Recertification and the $25.00 fee.  A member of the Certifying Board will send out notices and applications 6 to 8 weeks prior to the expiration of the certification term, but it shall be the responsibility of the CCLS whose certificate is expiring to contact the Certifying Board to obtain an application.  Please visit the LPI website at for further information. You will find information on recertification under the CCLS Certification tab.  Check it out!


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