What do paralegals and legal assistants do?
Help lawyers serve their clients. The Paralegal Studies and Legal Assistant programs both prepare student for careers in the legal profession. Paralegals are skilled professionals who perform substantive legal tasks under the supervision of a licensed attorney. While paralegals typically do not provide legal services directly to the public, paralegal responsibilities can include interviewing and assisting clients and witnesses, conducting investigation and data analysis, drafting legal documents, researching legal issues as well as supporting litigation efforts.
The Paralegal Studies program offers a 61 credit program for an Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies as well as a 29 credit program for a Legal Assistant Certificate. Both programs prepare students for careers in the legal profession. The Legal Assistant Certificate prepares students in basic legal office skills. Upon completion of the Legal Assistant Certificate program, students may enter the career field or apply their courses to an Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies.
Upon completion of the Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies, students may enter the career field and prepare to take the Certified Paralegal Exam offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants. Successful completion of that exam and one year of substantive law-related experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney qualifies the graduate as a paralegal under Rule 20-115(E) of the New Mexico Rules Governing Paralegal Service. The NALA certification is also accepted is many other states.
Graduates of this program will:
- Explain basic legal terms and concepts related to key areas of substantive law.
- Apply professional written communication skills to legal memorandums, documents and pleadings.
- Use legal research skills and apply relevant statutes, regulations and case law to given fact patterns or real-world scenarios.
- Create legal memorandum, documents and pleadings based on an application of the law to given fact patterns or real-world scenarios.
- Evaluate and express the ethical rules that govern lawyers and paralegals to given fact patterns or real-world scenarios.
Arts and Sciences Division
New Mexico State University Alamogordo
2400 N. Scenic Drive
Alamogordo, NM 88310
Dr. David C. MacWilliams