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Rhode Island Paralegal Career and Salary 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. Generally speaking, entry-level paralegal jobs in Rhode Island will require a degree in paralegal studies, such as an associate degree or a certificate. On this page, you will find up-to-date information on how to become a Rhode Island paralegal, certification options, salary, job outlook, and career resources to help you start a career in the paralegal field. Use the easy-to-navigate directory below to begin.

Table of Contents
How to Become a Paralegal in Rhode Island
Paralegal Certification
Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook
Paralegal Resources

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. Attending a Rhode Island paralegal program is strongly recommended. Internships and other experiential opportunities completed during formal study can enhance job prospects. Most paralegals have education as well as experience, which may include internships or other work experience in a legal setting. Some paralegals start out as legal document preparers or legal secretaries and move up the career ladder. Paralegal candidates will continue to benefit from formal education and national certification, as graduation from an accredited paralegal program and certification through a national organization can allow paralegal candidates within Rhode Island to compete for higher salaries.

1. Earn a degree or certificate in paralegal studies.

Earning a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in legal studies from one of the paralegal schools in Rhode Island can help potential paralegals build their legal skills and make them more competitive applicants for entry level paralegal jobs. Currently, there are two approved American Bar Association (ABA) programs in Rhode Island.1

2. Gain experience.

Gaining experience is another important step towards becoming a paralegal. Internships, job shadowing, and on-the-job training are often included as part of paralegal education programs. Not all programs will require experience for degree credit, but taking advantage of real-world experience opportunities is recommended to make paralegal candidates more competitive in the job field.

3. Seek certification, if desired.

Although Rhode Island does not require licensure or certification for paralegals, pursuing voluntary certification can help paralegals in their job search. Certification is available at the national level for paralegals in Rhode Island.

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. As in most states, Rhode Island paralegal certification is not required by state law. However, obtaining voluntary paralegal certification can show commitment to the field and provide networking opportunities. National organizations offer certification programs to maintain a consistent level of competency within the paralegal profession nationwide. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA, the Paralegal Association); the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA); and the American Alliance of Paralegals (AAPI) offer voluntary certification programs that are widely accepted by the industry as preparing candidates for professional excellence.

Obtaining voluntary certification from these associations is highly recommended and looked upon favorably by many paralegal employers. For more information on national certification options, take a look at our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal. For more information regarding paralegal education and employment in Rhode Island please refer to the Rhode Island paralegal associations listed below.

Rhode Island Paralegal Career and Salary Outlook

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 PC is a large, full-service law firm with offices across the Northeast. Also in Providence, Barton Gilman LLP is a mid-sized law firm with a variety of practice areas. Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD is a large law firm headquartered in Providence and specializes in veteran law and long-term disability. 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 Health, Citizens Financial Group, and Textron. 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.

LinkedIn is a good research resource where you can search on geography (Rhode Island or city-level) for “paralegal” to find networking opportunities and also companies most associated with users identifying as paralegals; companies in Rhode Island with the most LinkedIn users as paralegals include:

  • Brown University
  • Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD
  • Citizens
  • CVS Health
  • State of Rhode Island

For more information about paralegal careers, take a look at our careers page.

Rhode Island Paralegal Salary Information

Projected Job Growth

13.8%

Paralegals in Rhode Island from 2018-20282

In May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 1,170 paralegals and legal assistants employed in Rhode Island.3 Projections Central has estimated 12% employment growth nationwide for paralegals and legal assistants from 2018 to 2028, which is slightly lower than that projected in Rhode Island at 13.8%.2 Based on this growth, Rhode Island is projected to have 150 average annual paralegal openings through 2028.2 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 average paralegal salary in Rhode Island was reported at $55,050 in 2020.3 This annual wage is comparable to the median national wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $56,610.3 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. Paralegals who pursue paralegal education, are certified, and have real-world experience may be better positioned for higher salaries. Estimates are based on national data, not school-specific information; data accessed in December 2021.

Rhode Island Paralegal Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed4Average Annual Salary4
Norwich-New London-Westerly CT-RI190$51,060
Providence-Warwick RI-MA1,360$53,050

Paralegal Resources

Paralegal Associations in Rhode Island

These are volunteer organizations, typically with elected boards, that focus on professional development and networking for a specific geographical location and/or area of law.

  • Rhode Island Bar Association (RIBA): Strives to promote the administration of justice and uphold the high ethical standards of the legal professional throughout the state of Rhode Island while offering access to legal resources and statewide job postings.
  • Rhode Island Paralegal Association (RIPA): Provides its statewide membership with professional development and continuing education opportunities year-round while promoting the paralegal profession in Rhode Island.

Additional Resources

References:
1. American Bar Association Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm