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) 25k 50k 75k
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

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to: www.aiuniv.edu/disclosures

Programs:

  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Generalist
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Corrections and Case Management
  • Bachelor's (BSCJ) - Homeland Security and Crisis Management

Campus: Online

Building on Purdue's mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers 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

Campus: Online

CTU Classes Are As Close As The Mobile App.
Take classes with the help of your smartphone, tablet or laptop. CTU’s online bachelor’s programs were ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended these programs, go to: www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures

Programs:

  • Doctor of Management - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – Human Services
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security

Campus: Online

Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university.

Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts in Homeland Security