A paralegal is a professional who is engaged in undertaking specifically delegated substantive legal work under the supervision of a lawyer. A person undertakes a specific course of study at a college or university, junior or community college, or specialized institution of higher education to become a paralegal. In addition to pursuing a proper course of education, a paralegal must meet certain requirements to be certified. A person interested in becoming a paralegal may wonder if these requirements include submitting to drug tests.
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Drug Testing as a General Requirement of Becoming a Paralegal
As a general rule across the United States, there is no requirement that a person submits to a drug test prior to becoming a paralegal. In addition, there is no ongoing requirement that mandates a paralegal submit to drug testing throughout his or her career. With that said, there can be specific situations or positions of employment in which drug testing may be a requirement for a paralegal.
Situations in Which Paralegal Drug Testing May Occur
Paralegals are employed or otherwise retained in an array of different settings. These include sole practitioners, law firms, corporations or other types of businesses, and governmental agencies. These different entities can and do establish their own set of standards and protocols for paralegal employment. As a consequence, there can be instances in which a particular employer has a drug testing requirement for its employees.
In some cases, an entity contracts with a paralegal on what fairly can be called a freelance basis. A growing number of entities of different types outsource paralegal services, according to Forbes. When a paralegal is an independent contractor, the entity engaging the professional can include drug testing as a component of an agreement for services.
Examples of entities that may have drug testing requirements for employees or contract workers include certain governmental agencies. For example, law enforcement agencies of different types engage the services of paralegals. Some agencies of this nature do have drug testing requirements for employees and contract workers. On a related note, some offices of prosecuting attorneys maintain drug testing requirements that extend to include paralegals.
Other types of employers that may have drug testing requirements that include paralegals on the team include healthcare industry enterprises, tech companies, and enterprises that involve contact between these types of professionals and members of the public, particularly vulnerable individuals. Businesses in the financial sector may also maintain drug testing requirements for their employees, including paralegals.
Some entities, including corporations and other businesses, may require a drug test as part of the preemployment process. In this type of situation a drug test is apt to be a one-time undertaken after a job offer is extended.
Drug Testing as a Special Condition of Employment
A situation might arise in which a special condition is added to a paralegal’s conditions of employment necessitating drug testing. For example, a business might have policies relating to substance abuse or addiction that necessitates drug testing in the event an employee has such an issue.
Because there exists no general requirement for paralegals to submit to drug testing in the United States, a person seeking employment in this profession needs to inquire of what is required during the hiring process. A paralegal seeking employment needs to be conscientious in confirming all of the essential requirements associated with a particular position, including work conditions like random drug testing.