Become a Paralegal in Rhode Island

The Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ (BLS) 2012 reports showed that 1,160 paralegals and legal assistants were employed in Rhode Island with an hourly mean wage of $22.49 and an annual mean wage of $46,780. Paralegals with more education, experience and certification are often hired for the prime paralegal positions and some paralegals in Rhode Island made as much as $71,920 a year. In addition, the BLS predicts an 18 percent increase in paralegal and legal assistant positions nationwide between 2010 and 2020.

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In addition to paralegal and legal assistant jobs are positions for which paralegal skills are an asset or even a requirement. Real estate firms, insurance companies, NGOs, universities, health care providers, government entities and the criminal justice and court systems all need individuals with paralegal skills. The increased use of paralegals has resulted, at least in part, from a need to reduce legal costs in a time where the law affects every aspect of our lives. Under the supervision of an attorney, paralegals can perform legal tasks that were often completed by lawyers in the past, as much higher rates.

Paralegal Certification

Although there is no mandatory licensing or certification of attorneys in Rhode Island, legal education and certification go a long way toward helping job candidates gain an edge.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in Rhode Island

Paralegal Certificates

  • Roger Williams University (RWU)

    Roger Williams University (RWU) offers a post-baccalaureate paralegal certificate through its School of Continuing Studies. Courses are offered at several locations in the evenings as well as online, though at least 10 credits of legal specialty courses must be taken in a traditional classroom setting. RWU also offers a nurse paralegal certificate for registered nurses.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $9660 (based on 2013 rate for on-campus evening courses; cost varies depending on the number of courses taken on campus and online)
    • Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree; requirement may be waived in certain circumstances
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus, online or hybrid (on campus and online)

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Law and Legal Studies
    • Legal Research & Writing I and II
    • Law Contracts
    • Litigation I & II
    • Legal Ethics

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI)

    The Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), the largest public, two-year, degree-granting college in New England, offers an Associate in Science in paralegal studies that prepares students for a challenging career or for continuing their studies in a bachelor’s degree program. Throughout this program, students compile a portfolio of their course work including legal research, litigation documents such as complaints, discovery and pleadings and case briefs of published court decisions.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $7,248 for state residents; $10,872 regional rate; $20,512 for out-of-state students (based on spring 2014 full-time per-semester tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Open admission for students age 18 or above
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Law of Business Organization
    • Criminal Procedure
    • Basic Civil Procedure for Paralegals
    • Law of Evidence
  • Liberty University Online

    Liberty University Online‘s Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies is comprised of courses developed by practicing lawyers who understand the role of the paralegal firsthand. Students learn to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, gain a knowledge of the foundation of the law and become proficient in practical legal skills including office and case organization, document preparation and criminal and civil case procedures, all from a moral and biblical perspective. At least 15 credits of this 60-credit program must be taken through Liberty University.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $20,400 (based on 2013-2014 per-credit tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma, 2.0 cumulative combined GPA for all accredited colleges attended or for high school
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Foundations of Law
    • Tort Law
    • Civil Practice
    • Real Estate Transactions & Property
    • Criminal Practice & Procedure

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degree

  • Post University

    Post University was founded over 120 years ago and strives to continually adapt and evolve to offer education that stays ahead of the curve. It was an early adopter of online education the quality of its online programs was recognized when U.S. News & World Report put Post University on its 2013 list of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Post’s online Bachelor of Science in legal studies pairs a base in general studies with a solid core legal education. Faculty members have advanced degrees and years of experience in the legal field; classes are small and students can access technical help by phone, chat and email 24/7 every day of the year.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $66,000 (based on 2013 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
    • ABA Approved: No
    • Format: Online

    Sample required courses:

    • Legal Writing
    • Introduction to Law
    • Civil Litigation Practice
    • Legal Research
    • E-Commerce: The Legal Context
  • Roger Williams University

    Roger Williams University‘s Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies is practice-oriented, emphasizing practical application of knowledge. Students learn techniques for interviewing clients and witnesses, how to conduct legal research using analytical thinking skills and how to prepare legal documents such as pleadings. Students are also instructed in specialty areas of the law and law office procedures. The program includes a dual major requirement within the College of Arts and Sciences, ensuing that students receive an interdisciplinary education.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $119,904 (based on 2013-2014 annual tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus or hybrid (on campus and online)

    Sample required courses:

    • Emerging Technologies and the Legal Environment
    • Law in Contemporary Society
    • Law of Contracts
    • Litigation I & II

Professional Organization

  • The Rhode Island Paralegal Association (RIPA) is an affiliate of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), and works to enhance the paralegal profession. RIPA fosters communication within the legal community and monitors developments on the legal horizon. Members have access to the RIPA job bank, and can take advantage of networking opportunities and continuing legal education. Student members are welcome.