There are no laws banning a felon from becoming a paralegal. Requirements for obtaining paralegal certification vary from state to state, and individual employers determine whether or not they will hire a former felon.
The basic requirements to become a paralegal include an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree with a paralegal certificate. There are two certifying associations for paralegals, each with a code of ethics and optional certification designations. Being a felon does not prohibit a person from pursuing the education or certifications for paralegals.
Legal firms and corporate entities that hire paralegals may choose not to hire convicted felons. According to Angela Schneeman's "Paralegal Ethics," supervising attorneys are held legally responsible for the actions of the paralegals they hire. An attorney may hesitate to hire a felon, fearing future unethical behavior from that person.
Before entering a paralegal program, discuss felony convictions openly with the administration and placement-service employees, and ask for honest answers about employment prospects. Paralegal programs vary in quality. It is possible that unethical programs will recruit convicted felons without having solid prospects for their employment. Ask for examples of previous placements.
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