If 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 a 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 work sites. 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.”