State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Paralegal Job Description in New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the few states to set qualifications that must be met by persons who wish to become paralegals. You must fulfill certain educational, training or experiential criteria before you may work legally as a paralegal in New Mexico. The ways in which you can become a paralegal in New Mexico will be explored below.
 

Step 1

Complete Paralegal Education in New Mexico

New Mexico paralegals are not required to complete any sort of mandatory education, by law. However, with the vast knowledge and skills needed by paralegals, it is virtually impossible to become employed as a paralegal in New Mexico without completion of a paralegal education program.

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One route to becoming a paralegal in New Mexico is through post-secondary education. If you choose this route, you can fulfill the requirement in four ways:

  1. Graduate from an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved Paralegal Program. This program must culminate in an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or post-bachelor’s certificate in paralegal studies. The following paralegal program in New Mexico is currently the only ABA-approved program in the state:
  2. Graduate from a post-secondary level Legal Assistant Program which, although not ABA-approved, meets ABA guidelines for approval of Paralegal Education programs, namely:
    • It is at least 60 semester hours in length
    • At least 18 of these semester hours consist of general education coursework
    • At least 18 of these semester hours consist of legal specialty courses

Examples of New Mexico programs fulfilling these requirements include:

  1. Brookline College- Albuquerque
    • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  2. Santa Fe Community College – Santa Fe
    • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
    • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  3. Graduate with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline plus have two years of substantive law experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
    • Completing 15 semester hours of paralegal courses counts for one year of law experience
  4. Graduate from an accredited law school and never have been disbarred from practicing law in New Mexico or any other jurisdiction.

As the final two routes to paralegal certification do not involve education per se, they will be explored below:

  1. Have a high school diploma and seven years of substantive law experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney (See Option 2 below)
  2. Become nationally certified by a paralegal organization  plus have one year of substantive law experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney (see Option 3 below)

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Step 2

Requirements for Paralegals in New Mexico

If you chose a route in Option 1 above that requires substantive law-related experience attained under the supervision of a licensed attorney, you may choose to fulfill this requirement through volunteer or pro-bono work. There are many such organizations across New Mexico that would welcome your assistance. Just make sure that a licensed attorney supervises your work and can attest to the State Bar of New Mexico that you performed substantive legal work for the necessary time. Organizations include:

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Step 3

National Paralegal Certification in New Mexico

Another way in which you can become a paralegal in New Mexico is through national certification. The State Bar of New Mexico recognizes certifications bestowed by the following organizations:

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Step 4

Find Paralegal Jobs in New Mexico

Once you have fulfilled the State Bar of New Mexico’s criteria to become a paralegal, you are ready to look for work. Paralegals in New Mexico do not only work in law firms or private law practices. They are also found in academia, non-profit organizations, businesses and corporations. Potential employers of paralegals in New Mexico include:

  • Bernalillo County Government – Albuquerque
  • Almanzar & Youngers, P.A. – Las Cruces
  • New Mexico State Personnel Office – Alamogordo
  • The Risley Law Firm, P.C. - Farmington
  • Archibeque Law Firm – Albuquerque
  • Carpenter Law, P.C. – Santa Fe
  • Stetson Law Offices, P.C. – Albuquerque
  • Lovett Law Firm – Rio Rancho
  • Blanch Law Firm, P.C. - Roswell

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Step 5

Now That You’re a Paralegal in New Mexico

Congratulations! You are now a qualified paralegal working in New Mexico! You might want to consider joining the State Bar of New Mexico- Paralegal Division, as New Mexico does not have a voluntary association of paralegals. The division can help you in finding appropriate continuing legal education (CLE) opportunities and advance in your career. If you are nationally certified, remember to also meet the CLE requirements of your national certifying body.

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