Rodell Sanders is not your typical paralegal, or at least his path to becoming a paralegal was not a typical one. Sanders is a former prison inmate who made a decision while he was behind bars to make a change for the better not only in his own life but in the lives of others. He taught himself law while he was incarcerated and ended up winning his own acquittal at a retrial of his case over the summer this year.
Upon his subsequent release from prison, he was hired as a paralegal in a law office and immediately began helping other prison inmates who claim that they are wrongfully accused and are trying to get a new trial.
Sanders says that while he was in prison he began thinking about his situation and “wanted to change who I was…I wanted to recreate myself. I started to change the way I think, and then I started changing the way I act.” That determination led to Sanders developing a burning desire to study law and get himself out of prison. After a year of hard work he was granted his retrial and has been working for the Chicago law office of Loevy and Loevy as a paralegal ever since. He says that he “loves fighting [and] trying to free those who are innocent and locked up.
I am making a difference, I know that.” Within a few months of being hired by Loevy and Loevy, Sanders managed to play an integral part in a criminal case in which an inmate won acquittal after being wrongfully incarcerated for 19 years.
In his short time as a paralegal at the law office, Russell Ainsworth, Sanders’ attorney, says that he has already managed to have as much of a positive influence as many paralegals who work in an office “ten times as long.”
Sanders says that people often ask him if he really has cleaned up his life after spending years as a drug dealing gangbanger on Chicago’s South Side. His response, he says, is that he gets “high off life and high off waking up in the morning. I get high off being responsible.”