Everybody commits some sort of mistake at least once in their lives. After all, we are only humans who can bleed and can fall down. As the famous saying goes, a human is to err. That said, it just so happens that some people commit graver mistakes and get convicted. As such, they are often sentenced to prison. Getting sentenced to prison, however, does not imply the end of a journey. There is always a time when one will get back his freedom and go back into the world outside.
Can A Felon Be a Paralegal?
When you reach outside, most felons find it quite challenging. Of course, it goes without saying that there is already an existing stigma towards felons. Most of the time, that stigma is not in your favor. That, however, does not reflect who you truly are. Although, it may gravely affect your chances of landing a job. As such we will be helping you in this article as we will talk about being a paralegal.
If you, the one reading this article, have committed a felony before and are now integrating back into society, then you probably already know about the limitations we are talking about. Life is not really that good for everybody and this one sentence makes it a tad bit harder. Of course, life and the entire process could be really really frustrating on your part.
This is especially true when you are finally trying to change and turn over a new leaf. However, everybody does not seem to give you a chance. Moreso, being and wanting to become a paralegal has greater levels of anxieties. Since, you know, this is being part of the legal field; the same field that puts you behind bars.
Do not worry, though. As we have said before, we will guide you throughout using this entire article. We will be talking about what is felony, conviction, criminal contempt, if you are eligible to get trained and certified, and, of course, whether or not paralegal is something you can dip into.
What is a Paralegal?
After knowing all of this information, you might be thinking that this is actually kind of fun. Perhaps you are right, perhaps you are not. Anyway, let us now discuss what really a paralegal is. After all, this might be your future career.
Simply speaking, a paralegal is a person who does some legal work that is assigned by an attorney. It could be seen as being the hands and legs of an attorney. Basically, a paralegal does what an attorney is supposed to be doing.
It is part of the paralegal’s job to recognize, evaluate, as well as communicate relevant facts and legal concepts. It seems like some cool stuff, right? It is!
A paralegal is actually the one responsible for a lot of the lawyer’s work. A paralegal uses his own detailed knowledge regarding the legal system in order to ease the lawyer’s responsibilities and workload. As such, the paralegal frees up the attorney’s time, and the attorney can then spend his time and focus on providing the legal presentation.
Here are the duties of being a paralegal:
- A paralegal must manage the cases and everything that is involved in all aspects of the case
- A paralegal must file all the legal documents, as well as deal with all the deadlines
- A paralegal must research and gather up factual information regarding a case
- A paralegal must do the interview with the clients, as well as keep in contact with them
- A paralegal must draft legal documents
- A paralegal must draft and sign legal correspondence
- A paralegal must prepare for the trial and also assist during the trial
- A paralegal must locate and interview the witnesses needed for a case
- A paralegal must-attend legal proceedings and summarize the documents used in the proceeding
That said, a paralegal works in an attorney or a law firm’s office. They may also be found in corporations or a government agency.
Just like any line of work, a paralegal must possess a certain set of skills in order to be successful in this field. Here are the skills that a paralegal must possess to be a good paralegal.
- Detail-oriented to proof and double-check facts in a case
- Good research and investigation ability
- Good communications and interpersonal skills to deal with clients and attorneys
- Organizational skills to keep track of details of a legal case
- Effective time management for maintaining a strict schedule
- Good problem-solving skills to determine essential information in a case
- A good leader to direct others on a legal team
What do I need to have to become a Paralegal?
What you need in order to serve as a paralegal depends on which state you are currently residing on. Most of the states do not really have a set of specific education required to become one.
On the other hand, you can also enroll in a course to gain more paralegal knowledge. Amazingly enough, you can easily obtain paralegal education in various community colleges, technical schools, and, of course, various universities out there.
If you are applying for a certain lawyer or attorney, most of them prefer hiring paralegals who at least have attained a Bachelor’s Degree and around twenty-four credit hours in legal specialty courses. Of course, this is not the case for everybody, but most of them are like this. This is also due to the nature of the job revolving around research and legal responsibilities.
Speaking of paralegal education and courses, the National Federation of Paralegals Association or the NFPA has already made a set of school instructions for these paralegal programs. On the other hand, this curriculum is just a model and not necessarily needed to be observed.
Another educational program you can opt to use during your studies is available through the American Bar Association.
Do take note, however, that all these programs are pointless if you fail to pass the exam to finally be considered as a certified paralegal. The exam does not test the program you took but tests your knowledge as an aspiring paralegal.
Individuals who have the same amount of potential skills but do not hold a certification of sorts are referred to as a legal assistant. As it stands right now, there are no states that require anybody to have a license in order to practice as a paralegal.
Some aspiring paralegals opt to start as an assistant to some attorney before actually enrolling and taking some paralegal courses. By doing this, you may already gain some practical experience before getting the theoretics. You may also opt to do this decision if you think this will fit you best.
How much can I possibly earn if I become a paralegal?
Counting each person that is working as a paralegal or paralegal assistant in the United States of America, the amount would total to around 264,000. However, that statistics were from a few years back. When this statistic was taken, it was even predicted that this number will balloon for up to eight percent in 2020.
Back in 2015, an average paralegal is expected to earn around fifty-five thousand US dollars per year. Of course, this varies depending on how much experience a paralegal has, as well as the number of hours he works per week. A great paralegal can even earn up to a hundred grand per year.
In addition to that, another factor to consider is the area of the state where the Notary lives. Let us say that you are living in New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, or California, then damn you are one lucky guy. These are the states where paralegals are recorded to have the highest salaries.
Is this something for me?
If you are worried about suddenly being ambushed by a background check after applying in an online paralegal course, then there is actually nothing to be afraid of. This is highly unlikely to happen.
On the other hand, if you are opting to take the course through the American Bar Association, there will be a question regarding your criminal history. Make sure you are honest when answering this question. If you are dishonest, you can easily be expelled from the program.
A lot of states do not have any general policy when it comes to giving certificates to anybody with a history of a felony. They often look at each case individually and separately.
It is also highly advised for you to contact the American Bar Association or the NFPA as to what state you are planning to reside in after getting certified as a paralegal. Do this in order to find out what the exact policy and steps you must take in order to get into the certification exam.
Is it possible to receive a paralegal training or education despite my history?
This relies upon an enormous number of elements. In the event that you are looking to acquire an online paralegal degree, a criminal record ought not to be an issue. In any case, you might have gotten some information about your criminal history on the off chance that you apply to an ABA (American Bar Association) certified school. You might be posed inquiries about your record, regardless of whether you would like to get an online paralegal degree from an ABA-authorized program.
In the event that you have gotten some information about your criminal past, don’t lie. Doing so will get you dismissed or ousted from your paralegal program. It goes without saying that this is an event that you definitely do not want to happen. After all, you have already spent all that time and resources trying to get into the program only to get it revoked.
Whenever you get some information about your criminal past on a school application, the best thing to do is to be straightforward. In the event that you are applying for a budgetary guide, you ought to likewise take note of any medication violations that keep you from getting government assets for your paralegal preparation. This is a very important step so that you will not need to hassle yourself in the future. Do this and your future self will surely thank you for doing so.
When you get into a paralegal preparing program, you are not actually free. Oh, if only life is that easy. You and we both know that climbing the mountain has only begun. Numerous temporary position locales do individual verifications on understudies. Some of them won’t permit understudies with criminal records to work with them.
This typically applies to government work destinations. Before you apply to a program, ask whether your criminal history will be an issue when it comes time to do your temporary job. Just as we have noted earlier, you do not want to work through all of that arduous process only to get yourself rejected at the end of the day. After all, what matters the most is getting into the career path and sticking with it through the end. This will not happen if you get kicked out in the middle.
Is it possible to receive a paralegal certification despite my history?
Most state certification bodies don’t have a general arrangement in regards to paralegal wannabes with criminal narratives. Rather, they settle on choices dependent upon the situation. Simply speaking, each certification confirmation agent will assess each case as another and different case. Just because your friend got denied does not imply that you will be denied as well.
On the off chance that you have a criminal history, contact your state confirmation body after you complete your paralegal studies. They will tell you what steps you have to take, assuming any, so as to get affirmed.
Is it possible to get hired as a paralegal despite my history?
Lamentably, numerous law workplaces will only consider paralegal applicants who have no past criminal history. Some of these are colossal incorporations, as well as corporate workplaces in significant metropolitan territories. Discovering business will be particularly hard on the off chance that you have a lawful offense. This has something to do with the stigma and the stereotype that society has established as a rule. It is unjustifiable, but such is still the case.
Be that as it may, this task should not really be that arduous. A few managers will take a gander at the has it actually been ever since your conviction has ended, as well as the kind of offense that is on your record.
Numerous law workplaces likewise require their paralegals to be authorized as legal official figures in the public. You can not acquire this permit with a lawful offense conviction except if your criminal record was erased, you got an absolution or authentication of good lead from your State Department.
Just because you have a criminal history doesn’t mean you need to abandon your goal of being a paralegal. Search for any activity with a record is troublesome, yet numerous individuals figure out how to catch profitable work each day. In the event that you have a criminal past, there will likely be a few obstacles on your way to be. The best course of action is to simply not care and jump through each and every one of those hurdles until you finally hear “You’re employed.”
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.