Steps Toward a Paralegal Career in Rhode Island
Follow the step by step process on how to become a paralegal below:
- Acquire Your Paralegal Education in Rhode Island
- Accrue Paralegal Work Experience in Rhode Island
- If Desired, Become a Certified Paralegal in Rhode Island
- Find Paralegal Jobs in Rhode Island
- Now that you are a Paralegal in Rhode Island
Paralegal Job Description in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Labor Market Information indicates that paralegals and legal assistants in the state will see 230 new job openings in the state between 2010 and 2020. In a state where paralegals earned an average annual wage of $46,780 in May 2012, this is great news for aspiring paralegals. If you wish to discover how to become a paralegal in Rhode Island, read on.
Acquire Your Paralegal Education in Rhode Island
Rhode Island has not yet mandated paralegal education for aspiring paralegals in the state. It is generally accepted, however, that paralegals need specialized education and/or training in order to be effective.
Rhode Island Paralegal Online and Campus Schools
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Some paralegal programs in Rhode Island are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) while others are not. The choice of an ABA-approved or non-ABA-approved program is wholly yours, as the state places no limits on paralegal education programs in Rhode Island.
This is the only paralegal program in Rhode Island that is currently ABA-approved:
- Roger Williams University – Providence
- Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
- Minor in Legal Studies
Accrue Paralegal Work Experience in Rhode Island
You should gain some paralegal work experience within your Rhode Island paralegal education program. If you do not, or if you desire more experience, contact one of the pro bono organizations or legal aid agencies throughout Rhode Island. They serve the less fortunate Rhode Islanders who are in need of legal services, and would be happy to have the assistance of a paralegal student:
- Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc. – offices in Providence and Newport
- Rhode Island Housing Law Center – Providence and Newport
- Rhode Island Family Preservation Project-Providence and Newport
- Rhode Island Consumer Law Group-Providence and Newport
- Rhode Island Low Income Taxpayers Clinic-Providence and Newport
- Rhode Island Public Benefits Unit-Providence and Newport
Become a Certified Paralegal in Rhode Island
You need not become a nationally certified paralegal in order to work in Rhode Island. Many educational organizations, employers and the Rhode Island Paralegal Association, however, promote certification as a way to show that you hold the highest professional standards in the paralegal career discipline. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offers two certifications for paralegals:
- Paralegal Core Competency Exam (PCCE) – Core stands for Competent, Organized, Responsible and Ethical. This exam tests the skills and knowledge of entry-level paralegals and is taken at Prometric testing centers. If you pass, you will be called a CORE Registered Paralegal (CRP).
- Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE)-this exam is designed for paralegals who have worked for at least two years. If you pass, you will be called a Registered Paralegal (RP).
Find Paralegal Jobs in Rhode Island
Paralegals in Rhode Island are found within law offices, banks, corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, academic institutions and more. Examples of recent employers of paralegals in Rhode Island include:
- Citizens Bank – Smithfield
- Nixon Peabody LLP – Providence
- CVS Caremark – Woonsocket
- Hasbro – Pawtucket
- The Washington Trust Company – Westerly
- Shechtman, Halperin, Savage – Pawtucket
- The Greysmith Companies – Providence
You are a Paralegal in Rhode Island
Congratulations! You are now a paralegal in Rhode Island! If you have not already, think about joining the Rhode Island Paralegal Association. This association of paralegals statewide provides networking, continuing legal education, and career advancement opportunities.
If you are a CRP or RP, remember to take the proper CLE credits to maintain your credential. CRPs must complete eight CLE hours every two years, including one hour of ethics. RPs must complete 12 CLE hours every two years, including one hour of ethics.