About the Exam


Preparing for the Exam

The multiple-choice examination covers topics detailed in the Content Outline of the Body of Knowledge. The practice analysis upon which this outline is based was accomplished with the assistance of an independent testing contractor, the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO).

  • While the CLM program has applicability to all those who are, or aspire to be, principal legal administrators, job requirement for principal administrators working in different environments are not the same.
  • The content of the CLM examination is targeted to an individual who is expected to have day-to-day, hands-on involvement in each of the Body of Knowledge areas listed.
  • Persons passing the CLM examination should have the depth and breadth of knowledge and management skills that would enable him or her to visit any 30 to 50-attorney law office, review practices and procedures, and be conversant about, and offer advice in, each of the areas listed in the Body of Knowledge without relying on others.

Content Outline of the Body of Knowledge

The CLM certification exam questions are representative of the functional areas below. The percentages listed indicate how each area of knowledge is emphasized on the test.

I. Financial Management (31%)

A. General Accounting (14%)

  • Knowledge of general accounting procedures, systems, terms, concepts and policies, including familiarity with general ledger, general journal entries, cost accounting, fixed asset accounting, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.
  • Knowledge of banking/investment policies and procedures and types of accounts.
  • Knowledge of trust accounting procedures and regulations.
  • Knowledge of U.S. federal payroll and employee benefit procedures, and tax and reporting requirements (e.g., Internal Revenue Service Code).
  • Knowledge of legal organization structures and the laws and regulations regarding accounting procedures for each structure, including tax reporting requirements.
  • Knowledge of special issues in accounting for law firm operations, including time and billing systems, alternative billing methods, collection procedures, cost recovery guidelines and electronic billing.

B. Financial Information and Analysis (17%)

  • Knowledge of financing methods and investments (e.g., lease vs. buy).
  • Knowledge of methods of financial analysis, including reading and interpreting financial statements, calculating and interpreting various financial ratios, conducting profit analyses and analyzing comparative financial information across fiscal years.
  • Knowledge of budgeting, financial reporting, cash flow analysis, model building, and variance analysis.
  • Knowledge of alternative fee arrangements (e.g., bonus-based, flat-fee, task-based, volume discounts).
  • Knowledge of financial controls (e.g., division of responsibilities).
  • Knowledge of client matter budgeting as it relates to electronic billing and/or allocation of firm time and resources.

II. Human Resources Management (33%)

A. Employee Selection and Promotion (9%)

  • Knowledge of procedures and tools for recruiting, selecting, and promoting employees.
  • Knowledge of U.S. federal employment laws (e.g., Civil Rights Act of 1991, Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA], Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act [USERRA]).

B. Performance Management and Compensation (19%)

  • Knowledge of U.S. federal employee benefit laws (e.g., Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act [COBRA], Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA], Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA], Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA], Employee Retirement Income Security Act [ERISA]).
  • Knowledge of performance management systems (e.g., appraisal, disciplinary, and termination procedures).
  • Knowledge and expertise in personnel training and development systems/methods.
  • Knowledge of employee motivational techniques.
  • Knowledge of incentives/rewards systems (compensation, employee benefits).
  • Knowledge of substance abuse issues in the workplace (e.g., intervention techniques, assessment and treatment resources).

C. Organization Development (5%)

  • Knowledge of leadership styles and techniques.
  • Knowledge of team development and management principles (e.g., self-directed teams, team building).
  • Knowledge of organizational development techniques (e.g., change management).
  • Knowledge and skill in negotiation and conflict management techniques.

III. Legal Industry/Business Management (19%)

A. Legal Industry (11%)

  • Knowledge of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Ethics as it pertains to law firm management (e.g., conflict of interest, advertising, client file management).
  • Knowledge of professional liability issues.
  • Knowledge of changes/trends in the legal industry.
  • Knowledge of records management and retention requirements (e.g., requirements for paper and electronic documents, discovery holds and requests).

B. Business Management (8%)

  • Knowledge of business development techniques, including market analysis and business development tools (e.g., social media, website design, search engine optimization).
  • Knowledge of laws and regulations regarding business insurance coverages.
  • Knowledge of planning techniques (e.g., strategic, disaster and business planning).

IV. Operations Management (17%)

A. Technology/Automation Management (5%)

  • Knowledge of the features and capabilities of the internet, web-based technology, hardware and software systems, including security and confidentiality.
  • Knowledge of electronic privacy issues.

B. Operations (12%)

  • Knowledge of facilities management procedures and techniques.
  • Knowledge of lease/contract agreements.
  • Knowledge of project management.
  • Knowledge of work health issues (e.g., ergonomic workstations, employee assistance programs [EAPs]).
  • Knowledge of space assessment, design, and development strategies.

Exam Questions

The examination will include 125 questions, 25 of which will be included on a pilot basis and will not contribute toward the examinee’s test score. Pilot items are distributed among all categories and are unidentifiable from other questions. Responses to pilot items are analyzed to determine if they qualify and are suitable for use in future exams.

Sample Exam Questions and Answers: The following test items are representative examples of the types of test items that will appear on the examination. Actual items may vary in content and difficulty level.

1. An asset placed in service today would be most commonly depreciated for U.S. federal tax reporting purposes using which of the following methods?

(a) Alternative Minimum Tax

(b) Accelerated Cost Recovery System

(c) Double Declining Balance

(d) Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System


2. According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), when are medical examinations for potential new hires allowed?

(a) Once a job has been offered but prior to the commencement of employment

(b) Within 30 days of commencement of employment

(c) Prior to a position being offered

(d) When the employer doubts the applicant’s ability to perform

3. The term “selection procedure” as used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) includes:

(a) Standardized tests only

(b) Interviews only

(c) Physical examinations only

(d) Any procedure used as a basis for selection decisions


4. What characterizes an effective progressive discipline procedure?

(a) It includes feedback which is provided after several offenses

(b) It is intended to improve performance

(c) It is a systematic process intended to lead to demotion or termination

(d) It provides for informal counseling sessions


5. One of your attorneys has been asked to become a member of a client’s board of directors. What should be your main concern?

(a) The attorney may not be skilled to advise the board of directors in the complete scope of legal issues that may arise during board meetings

(b) The attorney may be inclined to accept work projects either outside of the scope of the firm’s resources and/or with unrealistic deadlines just to satisfy specific members of the board

(c) The attorney’s actions as a director may not be covered by your firm’s professional liability insurance policy

(d) The attorney’s time may be redirection away from the practice of law to the interests of the corporation for which he or she is a director


6. “Claims made” professional liability insurance policies typically include a provision for “prior acts” coverage. This coverage reaches back in time to a period prior to the policy period. A condition precedent to this coverage is that the insured individual:

(a) Purchased an extended reporting option at the conclusion of the prior policy period

(b) Notified the carrier during the policy year in which the act, error or omission occurred of the possibility that something had happened that could give rise to a future claim

(c) Diligently pursued a path to mitigate damages from some act, error or omission which was reported to the carrier in a subsequent period because of an unanticipated event

(d) Did not know or could not have reasonably known that a particular act would result in a claim


7. What is the function of Application Service Providers (ASPs)?

(a) To provide in-house help desk services to organizations

(b) To host software applications and store data accessible over the internet

(c) To link voice and data systems using fiber optics

(d) To provide analysis of optimal software applications to maximize workflow


8. In the strategic planning process, what addresses (a) what is involved, (b) when it begins and ends, (c) who will do it, (d) how much it will cost, and (e) the expected outcomes?

(a) Vision statement

(b) Goals statement

(c) Statement of objectives

(d) Action plan


9. According to ABA guidelines, when may a lawyer destroy client files?

(a) One year after the conclusion of the matter

(b) After the lawyers has attempted to return the file to the client and after ensuring that no legal or ethical restrictions prevent their destruction

(c) If the lawyer, in his or her professional opinion, concludes that the matter is completed, and the client has no further need of the file contents

(d) Once the lawyers have determined that the client cannot or will not pay outstanding fees


10. If a firm terminated its 10-year lease in the middle of the seventh year, what would be the effect on the firm’s year-end financial statement if the firm had made a $500,000 outlay for tenant leasehold improvements?

(a) The firm’s current assets would be reduced.

(b) The firm’s depreciation/amortization for the year would increase.

(c) The firm’s total operating expense for the year would decrease.

(d) Although the firm’s income statement would be affected, the year-end balance sheet would not change as a result of this transaction.


Correct answers: 1. d, 2. a, 3. d, 4. b, 5. c, 6. d, 7. b, 8. d, 9. b, 10. b

Exam Preparation — Some Potential Resources

The following reading materials are representative of the types of materials that have been used as the sources for writing test items. It is important to understand that no single resource is adequate for preparing for the exam. In preparing for the CLM exam, other books and articles with similar subject matter may be used instead in preparing for the exam. One should seek the most current edition or most recent year of any resources utilized.

The CLM Study Guide

The CLM Study Guide was designed to help you prepare effectively to earn the prestigious Certified Legal Manager (CLM)® credential. The study guide presents comprehensive information relating to the four functional areas covered in the exam, along with review questions and a 100-item practice exam.

Features of this resource include:

1) A focus on real-world issues faced by legal managers

2) The CLM Content Outline of the Body of Knowledge (also known as the test blueprint)

3) Review questions and answers for each subject area

4) A practice exam that follows the test blueprint

5) A comprehensive list of terms and definitions

6) Tips for creating a personalized study plan

7) Tips for preparing for an online exam


Use the Study Guide for the CLM Exam Practice Questions, Preparation and Reviews as a complement and guide to your individual preparation or as a resource for your study group.

The CLM Study Guide can be purchased here.

NOTE: These are suggested resources only. One does not need to purchase all the resources listed.

General Resources

  • Law Practice (magazine). ABA Law Practice Division (americanbar.org)
  • Legal Management (magazine). Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) (alanet.org)

Financial Management

Any introductory college level accounting textbooks, plus industry-specific resources such as:

  • ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Billing for Professional Fees, Disbursements and Other Expenses). American Bar Association.
  • Accounting and Financial Planning for Law Firms (newsletters). Law Journal Newsletters, a Division of ALM Media.
  • Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 7th Edition. ABA Publishing. Also available free online.
  • Cotterman, J. Compensation Plans for Law Firms, 5th Edition. ABA Publishing: Law Practice Division.
  • Iezzi, John B. Results-Oriented Financial Management: A Step-by-Step Guide to Law Firm Profitability, 2nd Edition. ABA Publishing: Law Practice Division.
  • Quinn, J .P., Bailey, J. A., Gaulin, D. E. & Kolodziejczak, S. Law Firm Accounting and Financial Management (including current annual supplement). Law Journal Press.
  • Robertson, M. Alternative Fees for Business Lawyers and Their Clients. ABA Publishing: Law Practice Division.

General tax resources such Circular E, Employer’s Tax Guide, Publication No. 15. U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Human Resources and Organizational Development

General textbooks such as:

  • Brown, D. R. An Experiential Approach to Organizational Development, 8th Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • Fisher, R., & Ury, W. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. Penguin Books.
  • Mathis, R. L., & Jackson, J. H. Human Resource Management, 15th Edition. Cengage Learning.

Reference materials on current federal laws and government publications such as:

  • I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. U.S. Form 1-9, OMB No. 1115-0136. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). U.S. Department of Labor.

Websites containing information on the above, along with related information include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (uscis.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (hhs.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Justice (justice.gov)
  • U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)

Legal Industry/Business Management

General textbooks such as:

  • Maister, D. H. Managing the Professional Service Firm. Free Press.
  • Maister, D. H. True Professionalism. Free Press.
  • Robbins, S. P., De Cenzo, D. A., & Coulter, M. Fundamentals of Management: Essential Concepts and Applications, 9th Edition. Prentice Hall.

Industry specific resources, such as:

  • Annotated Model Rules of Professional Conduct, 7th Edition. ABA Publishing. Also available free online.
  • Chiaiese, Beth. Ethical and Legal Foundations of Law Firm Records Management and Information Governance. ARMA International.
  • Consultants at Altman Weil. How to Manage Your Law Office. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc.
  • Cunningham, G. C., & Montana, J. The Lawyer’s Guide to Records Management and Retention. ABA Publishing: Law Practice Division.
  • Davis, A.E. Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms, 2nd Edition. American Bar Association.
  • Grella, T. C., & Hudkins, M. L. The Lawyer’s Guide to Strategic Planning: Defining, Setting, and Achieving Your Firm’s Goals. ABA Publishing: Law Practice Division.
  • Uniform Task-Based Management System: Litigation Code Set, Background, Definitions, Principles and Assumptions. American Bar Association.

 Operations Management

  • Law Technology News (magazine).
  • General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, AIA Document A201. American Institute of Architects.
  • Office Buildings: Standard Methods of Measurement (ANSI/BOMA Z65.1—2010). BOMA International.
  • Rhodes, J. & Polley, V. The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook: A Resource for Attorneys, Law Firms and Business Professionals. American Bar Association.
  • Williams, M. The Principles of Project Management. SitePoint.

Websites containing information on the above, along with related information include:

  • American Bar Association (americanbar.org)
  • American Institute of Architects (aia.org)
  • ARMA International (arma.org)
  • Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA International) (boma.org)
  • International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) (iltanet.org)
  • Project Management Institute (PMI) (pmi.org)
  • Web-based resources related to computer technology


ALA holds CLM exams twice a year: once in the spring, and once in the fall. ALA’s CLM exam is offered online at Pearson VUE’s many testing sites throughout the United States.

For more information, see Applying for The Exam on the Certification page at alanet.org.

All approved CLM applicants will receive a unique password and URL to register at one of Pearson’s testing locations. Applicants are encouraged to apply early in order to secure their exam location.

Please be aware that there are limited testing locations and seats available and you may not be able to take the exam at your preferred location.

What to Do/What to Expect:

  • Report to the test site 30 minutes before the start of the exam.
    • Examinees who arrive after the exam has begun will be admitted at the discretion of the examiner.
  • Agree to adhere to Pearson VUE’s Candidate Rules
  • Agreement.
  • Present a photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
  • Expect to have your palm scanned and be asked to empty your pockets.
  • Complete the exam within four (4) hours.
    • Examinees who complete the examination in less than four hours will be allowed to leave the test site.
    • Examinees are not permitted to work past the time scheduled for the completion of the examination.