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Rhode Island Paralegal Career Guide

Our guide is designed to help those interested in legal support careers find the answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in Rhode Island. Here you will find up-to-date information on Rhode Island paralegal salary, job outlook, career resources, and more to help you start a career in the paralegal field. Use the easy to navigate directory below to begin.

Table of Contents:
Paralegal Careers
Job Outlook in Rhode Island
Salary Outlook
Salary by Metro Area
Paralegal Certification
Certification in Rhode Island
Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in Rhode Island
Additional Paralegal Resources
Rhode Island Paralegal Career Books
Paralegal Job Search Websites
Rhode Island State Court Info
Law Libraries in Rhode Island
Paralegal Associations in Rhode Island

Paralegal Careers

Private law firms continue to be the primary employers of paralegals and legal assistants nationwide. Recently graduated paralegals may find promising Rhode Island paralegal jobs at large law firms based in urban centers, which generally practice in a variety of legal areas and tend to delegate paralegal labor based on subject area. This subdivision can allow paralegals to specialize in a particular legal subject. Headquartered in Providence, Adler, Pollock & Sheehan LLP is a large, full-service law firm with offices across the Northeast. The firm is known for offering personal attention to each client and fostering a positive work environment. Also in Providence, Barton Gilman LLP is a mid-sized law firm with a variety of practice areas. Firms of this size offer a unique work environment and may allow paralegals to engage in several different areas of law.

Corporations, government agencies, and other financial institutions also provide many opportunities for paralegal jobs in Rhode Island. Corporations with large offices in Rhode Island include CVS Corp., Fidelity Investments, and Rhode Island ARC. Rhode Island paralegal jobs can also be found in various government agencies. Paralegals are encouraged to look into a variety of legal settings to find the best fit.

Job Outlook in Rhode Island

Projected Job Growth

15.7%

Paralegals in Rhode Island from 2012-20221

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 17% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants from 2012 to 2022.2 This projected growth is significantly higher than the average growth estimate across all US occupations and the average growth estimate for all other US law-related occupations at 11% over the same period.2 The positive projections for paralegals are based on expectations that as law firms attempt to reduce the cost of legal services, tasks previously allocated to attorneys will shift to less expensive paralegal labor. Corporations are expected to undergo a similar financially-motivated shift toward internal legal departments. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training expects Rhode Island paralegal job growth to be similar to the national projections, and has estimated a 15.7% increase in paralegal and legal assistant employment in the state from 2012 to 2022.1 This equates to 198 total openings due to growth over this time period, with a further 173 total openings due to replacement anticipated.1

Rhode Island Paralegal Salary Outlook

In May 2014 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 1,120 paralegals and legal assistants employed in Rhode Island.2 The average paralegal salary in Rhode Island was reported at $50,350.2 This annual wage is comparable to the median national wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $48,350.3 Though Rhode Island is a smaller state both in area and population, new positions for paralegals and legal assistants are expected in the coming years, particularly in urban areas. Overall, the job and salary outlook for paralegals and legal assistants in Rhode Island is positive.

Rhode Island Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area

An overview of paralegal salary in Rhode Island by metro area:

Metro AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Norwich-New London CT-RI200$45,280
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA1,240$49,840

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.

Paralegal Certification in Rhode Island

Paralegals and legal assistants are currently categorized as legal paraprofessionals in Rhode Island. In this capacity, paralegals and legal assistants are permitted to complete legal tasks under the direct supervision of a qualified attorney but do not require Rhode Island paralegal certification. However, paralegal employers have shown a strong tendency to hire candidates with formal paralegal education and experience such as that earned through one of the paralegal schools in Rhode Island. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has approved one of the available Rhode Island paralegal programs. Other Rhode Island paralegal programs are offered at institutions across the state. Paralegal schools in Rhode Island generally combine general education courses with legal specialty courses in procedural aspects of law and practical professional skills. In addition to formal paralegal education from one of the Rhode Island paralegal schools, prospective paralegals and legal assistants are encouraged to seek national certification through organizations such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). These optional certification examinations are designed to encourage a consistent degree of competency for paralegals employed across the United States.

Rhode Island Certification

Rhode Island paralegals are currently subject to no regulations governing training and education and there is no requirement for Rhode Island paralegal certification. Thus, individuals may obtain onsite paralegal training from hiring law offices or corporations. Though not mandated by state law, national certification through organizations such as the NFPA and NALA can greatly enhance employment prospects for paralegal candidates. For more information regarding paralegal education and employment in Rhode Island please refer to the Rhode Island paralegal associations listed below.

Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in Rhode Island

As there are no requirements for formal Rhode Island paralegal certification, aspiring paralegals can follow many different career paths. However, attending a Rhode Island paralegal program is strongly recommended. Internships and other experiential opportunities completed during formal study can enhance job prospects. Candidates should also consider voluntary national certification. You can read more about national certification programs on our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal. You can also find out more about the qualifications that Rhode Island paralegal jobs typically require on our jobs board. Overall, paralegals can increase their prospects for landing desirable Rhode Island paralegal jobs by earning a combination of formal education, experience, and certification.

Paralegal Resources

As a paralegal, you will play an important role in supporting the success of your firm and will be positioned to make a difference in the lives of your firm’s clients. Having the right resources available when they are needed is an important skill for successful paralegals. The following Rhode Island paralegal resources can help you set yourself apart.

Rhode Island Paralegal Career Books

Paralegal Job Search Websites for Rhode Island

Rhode Island Court Info

  • Courts.RI.gov – The Rhode Island Judiciary website functions as a portal for all courts in the state’s jurisdiction. Links to court rules, forms, and news are provided, as well as access to court e-filing systems. Site visitors will also find helpful links for the state Judicial Records Center and other legal research sources.

Law Libraries in Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island State Law Library – Based in Providence, the Rhode Island State Law Library is open to the public and offers circulation privileges to bar members. The library’s collections focus on state law and contain comprehensive holdings in primary source materials. Those who hold a valid HELIN card for the Rhode Island library consortium may request inter-library loans from law libraries and general collections throughout the state.
  • Roger Williams University School of Law – Located in Bristol, the Roger Williams University School of Law collection includes over 295,000 volumes and 79,000 serial titles. The library also offers access to various legal online sources and databases. Members of the legal community are welcome to perform on-site research.

Paralegal Associations in Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island Paralegal Association – The Rhode Island Paralegal Association was founded in 1979 and serves paralegals statewide. The organization is an affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and offers its members professional development and continuing education opportunities throughout the year. Annual dues are $60 for voting members, $50 for non-voting members, and $40 for student members.

References:
1. Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/proj/occprojalpha.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-6
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates,
Rhode Island: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ri.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
5. American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/