Although it is one of the smallest states in the country, legal services are still vitally important in Rhode Island. This is why many people in Rhode Island are interested in a career as a paralegal. Becoming a paralegal allows you to seek employment in a law firm and work directly with attorneys without having to go to law school.
Rhode Island holds to the national normal in that it does not have any regulations that apply to becoming a paralegal. If you want a successful paralegal career, however, you will need to take several important steps, which can include a paralegal education and national certification.
How to Become a Paralegal in Rhode Island
- Certification: National certification is advised, but there are currently no paralegal certification requirements in Rhode Island.
- Age: Candidates for paralegal work should be over the age of 18.
- Licensure: A license is not needed to work as a paralegal in Rhode Island.
- Degree: At the minimum, you should have a certificate in paralegal studies. However, it is recommended you pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from an American Bar Association (ABA) approved institution.
- Experience: Work experience will make you a more attractive candidate to employers searching for a paralegal. While many paralegal degree programs offer internships, you can also gain experience through volunteer work.
- Citizenship: A paralegal in Rhode Island must be a US citizen or a legal alien.
- Background Check: You should be prepared to submit to a background check before becoming employed as a paralegal.
- Ethics: As with all legal professionals, paralegals must follow proper ethics.
Certification Process in Rhode Island
No certification currently exists in Rhode Island. Instead, Rhode Island paralegals will often become certified with a national organization to increase their employment opportunities. A paralegal will usually apply for certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
If you’re interested in the Certified Paralegal (CP) designation offered by NALA, you will need to pass an exam that covers multiple areas of the law. NALA also offers the Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC), which is a curriculum based program.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
When you enroll in a paralegal studies program, you will be given the knowledge most conducive to successful paralegal work. For example, you may learn about different legal disciplines like corporate law. You will also learn how to perform typical paralegal tasks like legal research and writing.
Major Cities in Rhode Island
- 177,994 people live in Providence, which is the largest Rhode Island city.
- Warwick is this state’s second largest city with 81,971 people.
- Cranston comes in third with 80,556 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in Rhode Island?
Law firms employ paralegals to handle some of their most important tasks. For example, many paralegals are responsible for finding evidence for cases, recording client statements, developing contracts and briefs, filing court documents and supporting attorneys during the course of a trial.
There are many legal support careers that hold similarities to paralegal work, which can include legal secretaries, legal assistants, claims adjusters and title examiners. Most jobs where you write or handle legal documents and work in support of an attorney are related to paralegal careers.
Employment Numbers in Rhode Island
The total number of paralegals working in Rhode Island in 2015 was 1,240. These employment numbers were gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in Rhode Island
Paralegals who work in the state of Rhode Island can expect an annual mean wage of $55,190.
Rhode Island Related Organizational Links
- Rhode Island Approved Paralegal Studies Programs
- Certification with the National Association of Legal Assistants
- Rhode Island Paralegal Association