New Mexico Paralegal Career Guide
Our guide helps those interested in starting a career in the legal field find the answers to the most common questions about how to become a paralegal in New Mexico. On this page, you will find New Mexico paralegal salary information, job outlook, career resources, and more to help you launch your paralegal career. Get started on your career journey using the directory below.
Table of Contents
- Paralegal Careers
- Job Outlook in New Mexico
- Salary Outlook
- Paralegal Certification
- Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in New Mexico
- Additional Paralegal Resources
The majority of paralegals and legal assistants are employed in private law firms, though corporations, government agencies, banks, and financial institutions also require paralegal support. New Mexico hosts several large law firms, which are concentrated in urban areas. Modrall Sperling is an established business law firm with offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. With multiple practice areas, Modrall Sperling requires a large degree of paralegal support, particularly in finance and business-related legal areas. Those interested in business law may find promising New Mexico paralegal jobs with this firm. With four offices across the state, Miller Stratvert provides comprehensive legal services in over 20 practice areas, providing periodic opportunities for new paralegals to join the firm.
Corporate positions for paralegals and legal assistants are also offered throughout New Mexico. Large New Mexico employers include Los Alamos National Security, Ernest Health, and MBF Inspection Services. Government agencies are also known to hire recently graduated paralegals and legal assistants in a variety of roles. These positions may provide a good introduction to the field.
Job Outlook in New Mexico
Projected Job Growth
Paralegals in New Mexico from 2016-20261
In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 1,510 paralegals and legal assistants employed in New Mexico.2 As law firms work to reduce the cost of providing legal services, hiring trends are expected to shift from attorney hiring to greater paralegal and legal assistant hiring. Corporations are also seeking to reduce the expense of legal services and may rely more heavily on internal legal departments rather than more costly outside counsel. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2016 to 2026.3 More moderate, though still positive, growth is expected for New Mexico paralegal jobs over the same period, at 12.1%.1
New Mexico Paralegal Salary Outlook
The average annual paralegal salary in New Mexico was reported at $43,940 in 2017.2 Though this is below the national average salary for paralegals at $53,910, part of the disparity is likely due to the lower cost of living in New Mexico.2 In addition, the positive employment growth rate expected over the next few years should result in higher average salaries for qualified paralegals.
New Mexico Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area
An overview of paralegal salary in New Mexico by metro area:
|Metro Area||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4
Paralegal Certification in New Mexico
There are no formal requirements for New Mexico paralegal certification. However, paralegals in New Mexico must meet certain education and training requirements, discussed in more detail below. There are numerous paralegal schools in New Mexico that can help aspiring professionals prepare for a paralegal career. There are no American Bar Association (ABA)-approved New Mexico paralegal programs, though other programs are respected by potential employers. Upon completing a paralegal degree program, prospective paralegals and legal assistants are encouraged to seek voluntary certification through a national paralegal association. Both the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) offer optional certification examinations and continuing education programs for paralegals across the United States.
New Mexico Certification
Though New Mexico paralegal certification is not required, the New Mexico Bar Association has outlined voluntary guidelines for the employment of paralegals. These rules define a paralegal as a person who has completed a certain degree of paralegal education or work experience. The acceptable education requirements can be fulfilled in a variety of ways and prospective paralegals and legal assistants in New Mexico should consult Rule 20-115 of the Rules for Governing Paralegal Services for further details. Those who do not meet the qualification guidelines for New Mexico paralegals may still be able to find work as legal assistants and work their way up the career ladder through education and experience.
Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in New Mexico
Though New Mexico paralegal certification is not mandatory, national certification through an organization such as NALA or the NFPA is generally respected in the legal field. You can learn more about national certification through our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal. Candidates who have completed a program of study at one of the paralegal schools in New Mexico will be well-positioned to compete for opportunities. You can gain a better idea of standard qualifications for paralegal jobs in New Mexico on our jobs board. Together, formal paralegal education, work experience, and optional national certification will continue to be important factors in paralegal and legal assistant employability.
As a paralegal, you will play an important role in supporting the success of your firm and will be able to make a difference in the lives of your firm’s clients. A paralegal’s success is often based on having the right resources available when needed. The following New Mexico paralegal resources can help you become more competitive in your career.
New Mexico Paralegal Career Books
- New Mexico Employment Law Desk Reference – Helpful for paralegals working in business or human resources, or for firms representing employment cases, this comprehensive guide covers the fundamentals of employment law and rules in New Mexico. The text discusses at-will employment, classifications, contracts, and the law of torts in the state at length.
- Family Law in New Mexico – Family law, which includes actions as diverse as divorce and estate planning, is a major area of practice for attorneys. Paralegals working in family law environments should have a basic understanding of family law, which this text aims to provide. Also covered are laws governing marital property and debts, custody, and familial support.
- New Mexico Environmental Law Handbook – New Mexico is known for its natural beauty, which in many areas is protected by a complex set of state and federal laws. This guidebook to the environmental laws of New Mexico covers protection laws, resource use, and more for those who are likely to encounter cases bearing on environmental issues.
Paralegal Job Search Websites for New Mexico
- Paralegal411 jobs board – You can find paralegal jobs in New Mexico on our jobs board.
New Mexico Court Info
- NMCourts.com – The Judicial Branch of New Mexico website contains links to all courts in the state’s jurisdiction. This website also includes up-to-date court forms and rules, online case lookup, and e-filing systems.
Law Libraries in New Mexico
- New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library – Located in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library celebrated its 100th year of service in 2015 and is open to legal professionals and the public. Its various electronic resources are available for legal research, including free access to Westlaw. The library can also provide many popular law review articles by e-mail.
- University of New Mexico School of Law Library – The University of New Mexico School of Law Library is located on the University of New Mexico main campus in Albuquerque. Considered a large library by ABA standards, the library holds over 433,900 volumes in print and microform. Its collections in New Mexico state law and Indian law are particularly noteworthy.
Paralegal Associations in New Mexico
- State Bar of New Mexico Paralegal Division – The only registered paralegal organization in New Mexico, the State Bar of New Mexico Paralegal Division works to promote the paralegal profession through professional development and education. The Paralegal Division hosts regular meetings as well as job assistance to members. Annual dues are $70 for accepted members, who must qualify as paralegals under state bar guidelines and complete annual continuing education.
1. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New Mexico: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nm.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/