Ronald C. Newman, 31, a paralegal specialist at the Justice Department who was active in groups for the terminally ill, died of cancer Sunday at George Washington University Hospital.

Mr. Newman was first diagnosed as having cancer 17 years ago. For the past five years, he had met once or twice weekly with terminally ill patients at George Washington University Hospital and at Hospice Care of the District of Columbia. He discussed how to live with impending death, what to expect in the course of an illness, how to deal with families, and related topics.

He was born in Washington and lived in North Englewood, Md. He attended St. John's Military Academy, where he was a percussionist in the band, and graduated from Fairmont High School. He later attended Morgan State College and then completed the paralegal program at the University of Maryland. He joined the Justice Department five years ago.

Mr. Newman was a member of the parish of St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church.

Survivors include his parents, J. Alfred and Frankie Newman of North Englewood; a sister, Renee Newman Smith of Los Angeles; and one grandmother, Catherine Jackson of North Englewood.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to a memorial fund being established in Ronald Newman's name at Hospice Care of the District of Columbia.