New Mexico Paralegal Career Guide

Paralegal Education in New Mexico

Flag of New Mexico

Flag of New Mexico (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The paralegal occupation in the state of New Mexico is not nearly as large as in more urbanized states, but it is growing as the state’s population and urban areas expand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Mexico is home to about 1,730 working paralegals, the majority of whom are located in Santa Fe and the Albuquerque metro area. On a national scale, paralegal jobs are expected to increase by about 28% in the next 6 years as law firms continue to save money by hiring legal assistants to perform duties traditionally performed by lawyers.

The average salary for a paralegal in New Mexico is modest at about $42,060, with an average hourly wage of $20.22. Private law firms are the largest employers of paralegals in New Mexico, although the state’s national laboratories and other government entities, as well as some large corporations, hire legal assistants as well.

The state of New Mexico defines a paralegal as someone who performs legal work while employed or contracting under a lawyer. In addition, licensed attorneys in New Mexico must supervise any paralegal working under them and are legally responsible for all legal assistant conduct. Like all US states, New Mexico prohibits paralegals and all non-licensed lawyers from practicing law, and will prosecute those who ignore this rule.

Aspiring legal assistants in New Mexico have a few options to start their career. They can earn a certificate or degree at a school, or become a paralegal informally via on-the-job training. However, paralegals who have earned a certificate from an accredited and endorsed program are usually given preference when applying for jobs. If a working paralegal is looking to pursue an official certificate or degree, then it may be worthwhile to ask for support from their employer.

Paralegals in New Mexico receive their certificate or degree when they pass an approved certification exam. Even paralegals who have received a certificate from their school are not “certified paralegals” until they pass one of these exams. These exams are provided by a few different organizations including the National Association of Paralegals (NALA), the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), or the National Association for Legal Professionals (NALS).

Salaries

In USD as of Feb 21, 2013 (source: indeed.com)25k50k75k
Paralegal in New Mexico $42,000
 

Spotlight School

Educational Establishments

English: Chaves County (New Mexico) Court Hous...

Chaves County (New Mexico) Court House. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The American Bar Association (ABA) is an influential organization that not only provides oversight of practicing attorneys, but also endorses law programs and colleges, including paralegal programs. An approval from the ABA proves a program’s credibility and high academic standard, and many employers require applicants to carry a certificate or degree from an ABA-endorsed program.

A school’s accreditation status – which is independent of a program’s endorsement – is provided by the US Department of Education. Accredited institutions have been proven to be legitimate and ethical and are a good bet when considering education options, as they will boost a starting paralegal’s credibility. Many employers require a certificate or degree from an accredited school, in addition to an ABA-endorsed school. Other employers may require one or the other, or may even have no requirements at all. For the most employment opportunities, it’s ideal to attend a school that is both accredited by the Department of Education and endorsed by the ABA, if possible.

New Mexico has only one paralegal school program endorsed by the American Bar Association:

Central New Mexico Community College is a public 2-year college located in Albuquerque, NM. This school offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and a post-baccalaureate certificate in its Paralegal Studies program. Internships are mandatory.

Firms of Interest

New Mexico is home to many prestigious law firms, with the majority located in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. A few are listed below:

Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin LLP (with locations in New Mexico and Texas)
218 Montezuma
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
Phone: 505-982-4554
Fax: 505-982-8623

Atkinson & Kelsey, PA
2155 Louisiana Boulevard N.E., Suite 2000
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Phone: 505-796-6238
Toll Free: 800-640-3070
Fax: 505-889-3111

Scheuer, Yost & Patterson
125 Lincoln Avenue
Suite 223
P.O. Box 9570
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: 505-982-9911
Fax: 505-982-1621

Other Resources for Paralegals

Paralegal Schools in New Mexico

Campus: Online

  • Northcentral University was founded in 1996 to provide working professionals around the world with unprecedented access to richly engaging, professionally relevant, and academically-rigorous education from a U.S. university.
  • As a regionally accredited, private, online and graduate-focused university, NCU offers doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business, technology management, education, and psychology, as well as doctoral and master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - Policing
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - White Collar Crime
  • Master of Legal Studies
  • Doctor of Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

Campus: El Paso, TX

Our mission is YOUR SUCCESS!

When you succeed, we succeed.  That is why we provide high-quality, specialized career preparation for all our students. Our goal is to help you find your rewarding career.

Our Mission Statement:

To provide high-quality, specialized career preparation or enhancement to meet and cope with technological changes resulting in employment and career success.

Programs:

  • Criminal Justice Associate Degree (AAS)
  • Paralegal Associate Degree (AAS)

Get hands-on training with Brookline College. We offer diploma and degree programs in the areas of health care, business, nursing, criminal justice, paralegal, and computer security. We understand that today's student is busy with many responsibilities, so we offer day, evening, and online classes, giving you options to fit school into your schedule.

Programs:

    Campus: Online

    Since 1977, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career-focused education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.  Our student-centered approach remains at the foundation of the Keiser University mission and continues to attract students who prefer a more personal learning experience.

    Programs:

    • Master of Arts in Homeland Security

    Campus: Online

    Hofstra University is a private institution whose primary mission is to provide a quality education to its students in an environment that encourages, nurtures and supports learning through the free and open exchange of ideas for the betterment of humankind. Hofstra University is committed to academic freedom and to the transmission, advancement and preservation of knowledge for its own academic community and the community at large.

    Programs:

    • Online Master of Arts in Health Law and Policy

    Campus: Online

    Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Globaldelivers a fully personalized online experience that's tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from a prestigious university system—completely online.

    Programs:

    • BS in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
    • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • BS in Criminal Justice - Crime Scene Investigation
    • BS in Criminal Justice