Can Someone With a Criminal Record Become a Paralegal?

arrestedIf you have a criminal record, you are probably familiar with many of the limitations that are put upon you. This can certainly be frustrating if you want to put your past behind you and get credible employment. Anxieties about gaining employment can be amplified if you are seeking employment as a paralegal, as this job is part of the legal field. This article will let you know whether you will be able to attend a training program, get certified, and become employed as a paralegal when you have a criminal record.

Can I Get Into a Paralegal Training Program With a Criminal Record?

This depends on a large number of factors. If you are seeking to earn an online paralegal degree, a criminal record should not be a problem. However, you may be asked about your criminal history if you apply to an ABA (American Bar Association) accredited school. You may be asked questions about your record, even if you do want to get an online paralegal degree from an ABA-accredited program. If you are asked about your criminal past, do not lie. Doing so will get you rejected or expelled from your paralegal program. If asked about your criminal past on a school application, the best thing to do is to be honest. If you are applying for financial aid, you should also note that some drug crimes prevent you from receiving government funds for your paralegal training.

Once you get into a paralegal training program, you are not exactly in the clear. Many internship sites do background checks on students. Some of them will not allow students with criminal histories to work with them. This usually applies to government worksites. Before you apply to a program, ask whether your criminal history will be a problem when it comes time to do your internship.

Can I Get Certified as a Paralegal if I Have a Criminal Record?

Most state certification bodies do not have a general policy regarding paralegal students with criminal histories. Instead, they make decisions on a case-by-case basis. If you have a criminal history, contact your state certification body after you complete your paralegal studies. They will let you know what steps you need to take, if any, in order to become certified.

Can I Get Employed As a Paralegal if I Have a Criminal Record?

Unfortunately, many law offices will only consider paralegal candidates who have no past criminal history. These include many large, corporate offices in major metropolitan areas. Finding employment will be especially hard if you have a felony. However, this task need not be impossible. Some employers will look at the amount of time that has passed since your conviction and the type of offense that is on your record.

Many law offices also require their paralegals to be licensed as notary publics. You can not obtain this license with a felony conviction unless your criminal record was expunged, you received a pardon or a certificate of good conduct from your State Department.

Just because you have a criminal history does not mean you have to give up on your goal of becoming a paralegal. Searching for any job with a record is difficult, but many people manage to snag gainful employment every day. If you have a criminal past, there will probably be some hurdles on your way to a job. Your best option is to clear each of them until you hear the words “You’re hired.”


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5 thoughts on “Can Someone With a Criminal Record Become a Paralegal?”

  1. Chris says:
    Just put this up. Bottom line, it just depends on the company you want to work for and what you want to specialize in. You might even want to contact some of the firms you were thinking about working for and check with them.

  2. Amber Davis says:

    I currently have a felony on my record. I am attending college right now going through my prerequisite courses. By the time I am ready to graduate, my record will have been expunged. Does that mean I am in the clear? I don’t want to go all the way through college and bust my rear for a degree to become a paralegal if Im not going to be able to get a career doing so…HELP!

  3. Scillerena says:

    I am in school for a paralegal degree and I have 4 felonies in the State of California. The reason I went to school to obtain a degree so that I can prove that I want to give back. I am not proud of what I did, but it is not stopping me either. I have learned much and I am not going to stop, that is my choice and no one can take my life away from me if I am trying to get to the top. I was at the bottom for years. I have turned my life completely around.

  4. Lilly Ross says:

    I wish my daughter had read this article. She will soon be getting her associates for Paralegal. She was convicted of a felony in 2005. Spending all this money to become something that the law almost makes in possible to get a job in is heart breaking. She plans on continuing her studies to get her BA degree. I hope things will change for her.

    Thank you

  5. Brian Mendez says:

    Can one be Criminal with No Victim? I guess I’m a criminal, even though I’ve never hurt a soul. I don,t feel like a criminal! Can one commit a crime against one self? I think not!!!

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