In Fall 2021, North Hennepin Community College’s Paralegal Program, in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, led by Mary Gillen Fenske, J.D., enrolled its first cohort of 5 incarcerated scholars in the first ABA-approved Paralegal Certificate delivered behind bars.
This program is a result of a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Corrections and All Square–Minneapolis called The Legal Revolution. The Legal Revolution’s Prison-to-Law Pipeline Project democratizes legal education by ensuring that incarcerated scholars have access to ABA-approved paralegal education and ABA-accredited law degrees. The goal is to provide high quality legal education to those on the inside who will then be empowered to help other justice-impacted people as prison law clerks and library assistants. Upon release, incarcerated scholars will graduate into paralegal positions through a system of partnerships with local Minneapolis law firms. The paralegal students’ tuition is currently funded through private grants from the law firms of Ballard Spahr, LLP and Barnes & Thornburg, LLP. North Hennepin has also applied for Second Chance Pell Status with the Department of Education and is awaiting word on acceptance.