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Earning Your CLI

earningThe NALI Certification Program

The National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc. offers a Certified Legal Investigator® (CLI) program which certifies that qualified investigators possess superior knowledge in the field of legal investigation. The criteria to become a Certified Legal Investigator are as follows.

  1. Applicants must devote the majority of their practice to negligence investigations, tort investigations or any other investigations for the plaintiff; and/or criminal defense investigations for retained defense attorneys or appointed investigators for indigent criminal defendants in local, state or federal criminal cases; and be employed by either a law firm or government entity conducting criminal defense investigations for indigent defendants, or a private investigative firm.
  2. Applicants must be licensed, if required, by the state in which he/she is practicing or employed.
  3. Applicants for the CLI designation must have a minimum five years verifiable work experience as a full-time investigator for civil plaintiffs, and/or as a criminal defense investigator. Applicants may substitute successful completion of at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of course work at an accredited college or university for one year of work experience.
  4. Applicants must submit a minimum 1,000 word research “white paper” on any investigative subject. The research paper does not have to accompany the application and fee, but the original and two copies must be submitted to the Chairperson of the CLI Committee at least 30 days prior to the established test date.
  5. Applicants must submit the application for examination and the appropriate fee to the CLI Chairperson at least 30 days prior to established test date. The Chairperson of the CLI Committee shall complete a confidential background investigation of each candidate and determine his/her eligibility to take the CLI examination.
  6. CLI tests will be administered by the CLI Chairperson annually at the National Conference. Additional testing will be made available where there are five eligible candidates to sit for the CLI examination and/or at the discretion of the CLI Chairperson.
  7. The applicant must receive a minimum passing score of 70% in each examination section including the white paper, the written examination and the oral examination in order to receive the designation of Certified Legal Investigator®.
  8. Should the candidate fail one or more sections of the CLI test, the candidate must re-take and pass any failed section in order to obtain the CLI designation. It is not necessary to re-take any section that has previously been passed by the candidate. The candidate may re-take any failed section, but must successfully complete all portions of the exam within three years of the date the candidate submits his/her application.
  9. There is no certification in any specialty field of investigation.
  10. The application fee is $200 for members of NALI and $300 for non-members. Payment of the application fee, or re-test fee (one third of the application fee per section re-taken), must be received by the Chairperson of the CLI Committee at least 30 days prior to the established test date.
  11. The CLI test scores and white paper scoring shall be destroyed by the CLI Committee Chairperson immediately upon confirmation of the designation of the candidate as a Certified Legal Investigator®. The CLI Chairperson shall retain the tests and scoring for any candidate who failed any portion of the test for a period of three years from the date of the candidate’s original application.
  12. No scores will be made public.
  13. Certified Legal Investigators® must adhere to the Code of Ethics established by the National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc. Complaints concerning Certified Legal Investigators® who are members of the National Association of Legal Investigators shall be investigated by NALI’s Disciplinary Committee. A complainant will have the opportunity to file a complaint with the Certified Legal Investigator® Committee following the Disciplinary Committee’s investigation and final resolution. Complaints concerning a Certified Legal Investigator® who is not a member of the National Association of Legal Investigators shall be filed with, investigated and decided by the Certified Legal Investigator® Committee.
  14. Decertification for Cause.The CLI Chairperson may establish a decertification committee consisting of the chair and four other Certified Legal Investigators® in good standing. The CLI Decertification Committee shall have the authority to decertify a CLI, upon majority vote, if the committee determines the CLI under review: presents a clear and present danger to the character, integrity, and welfare of the CLI Program, or; engages in conduct and/or actions unbecoming a CLI and detrimental to the reputation of the CLI Program and other Certified Legal Investigators®, or; has committed an act of perjury, or; has been convicted of a felony at any time. Any CLI who has been decertified for cause shall be notified in writing. The decision of the CLI Decertification Committee is final. No CLI who has been decertified will be eligible to re-apply for the CLI Examination.

The CLI Research Paper, “White Paper”

The white paper must be an originally-authored and unpublished paper of not less than 1,000 words written by the CLI applicant, specifically for the CLI examination. It may be written on any investigative subject, but is not to be a rehash of an investigated case. For examples of white papers, see past issues of The Legal Investigator, the official publication of the National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc.

The white paper should be written in an article or thesis-style format. The original and two copies must be submitted in typewritten form, double spaced, on regular size (8 ½ x 11 inch) paper by mail and/or email attachment. References cited (if used) in the paper must be either footnoted and/or listed in a bibliography attached to the white paper. If the white paper is based on the investigator’s own personal knowledge and/or his or her experience working the field using no reference materials or publications, a bibliography and footnotes are not necessary. However, a white paper without footnotes and/or bibliography must contain a simple signed, written notation (on a separate page) that the white paper is based on personal knowledge and/or experience and is an independent work of the author.

The National Association of Legal Investigators, Inc. reserves the right to publish the white paper in its official journal, The Legal Investigator, and/or distribute it to its membership through any other reasonable means which it deems appropriate.

The CLI Written Examination

Written examination questions are derived from the following sources:

  • The CLI Committee recommended reading list.
  • Articles published in The Legal Investigator.
  • General information the Committee Chair has deemed should be known by a legal investigator.

The written test format includes definitions, true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, matching and essay. The written examination has a three hour time limit.

The CLI Oral Examination

Candidates will be given a mock investigative assignment, with either a civil or criminal scenario. The candidate will interview a purported witness and obtain his/her handwritten statement under oath within a prescribed amount of time. This is followed by an oral/ethics examination. All testing is conducted only by Certified Legal Investigators® and members of the CLI Committee.

The entire CLI oral examination section takes approximately three hours and includes the interview, statement, ethical questions, and those areas deemed appropriate by the CLI Committee.