2015-2016 Catalog: Paralegal Studies

Associate of Applied Science Degree


If you have an interest in the law and how it affects individuals and society as a whole, then a career as a paralegal could be an excellent choice for you. Paralegals enjoy the intellectual challenge of assisting attorneys in finding legal solutions for their clients’ problems.

A precise description of the paralegal’s role is found in the New Mexico Supreme Court’s definition in the Rules Governing Paralegal Services (Rule 20-102A), which states that a paralegal is one who:

1. contracts with or is employed by an attorney, law firm, corporation, governmental agency or other entity;

2. performs substantive legal work under the supervision of a licensed attorney who assumes professional responsibility for the final work product; and

3. meets one or more of the education, training or work experience qualifications set forth in Rule 20-115 NMRA of these rules

In these same Rules, the Court’s examples of substantive legal work include, “case planning, development and management; legal research and analysis; interviewing clients; fact gathering and retrieving information; drafting legal documents; collecting, compiling, and utilizing technical information to make an independent decision and recommendation to the supervising attorney; and representing clients before a state or federal administrative agency if that representation is authorized by law” (Rule 20-102B NMRA).

The DACC Paralegal Studies program focuses on developing skills necessary to perform substantive legal work. Examples of courses leading to that end include Litigation, Legal Research and Writing, Legal Terminology, Virtual Law Office, Legal Ethics, and Torts. Through classroom instruction (including practical exercises and assignments), computer lab practice, and an internship, students gain essential skills, as well as a broad background in many different areas of law.

Graduates of the Paralegal Studies program are eligible to apply to take the national certification examination offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Those who successfully complete this two-day exam are designated Certified Legal Assistants (CLA).

The employment outlook for paralegals is good. Program graduates are employed with private firms, various courts, community legal services, state and federal governmental agencies (e.g., Human Services Departments, public defenders, and district attorneys), as well as a variety of businesses.

Associate Degree (67–72 credits)

NOTE: Students must pass ENGL 111G, ENGL 203G, and all PL S courses with a minimum grade of C. Courses with course prefixes appearing in italics are identical to those offered at New Mexico State University Las Cruces (main) Campus.

Core/General Education Requirements (19 credits)

Course (Prefix & Number • Title)19 credits
ENGL 111G • Rhetoric and Composition4
ENGL 203G • Business and Professional Communication
—OR— ENGL 218G • Technical and Scientific Communication
—OR— BOT 209 • Business and Technical Communications
COMM 253G • Public Speaking
—OR— COMM 265G • Principles of Human Communication
MATH 120 • Intermediate Algebra
—OR— MATH 121G • College Algebra
—OR— BOT 106 • Business Mathematics
PHIL 201G • Introduction to Philosophy
—OR— PHIL 211G • Informal Logic
PSY 201G • Introduction to Psychology
—OR— SOC 101G • Introductory Sociology
—OR— BMGT 240 • Human Relations

Related/Professional Requirements (10–11 credits)

Course (Prefix & Number • Title)10–11 credits
ACCT 200 • Survey of Accounting
—OR— ACCT 221 • Financial Accounting
—OR— BOT 120 • Accounting Procedures I
BMGT 201 • Work Readiness and Preparation (2 cr.)
—OR— BMGT 202 • Career Management (1 cr.)
BOT 211 • Information Processing I
—OR— BOT 213 • Word Processing I
GOVT 100G • American National Government3

Technical/Major Requirements (38–42 credits)

Course (Prefix & Number • Title)38–42 credits
PL S 160 • Legal System for the Paralegal3
PL S 190 • Criminal Law for the Paralegal3
PL S 200 • Legal Ethics for the Paralegal3
PL S 221/222 • Internship I/II
NOTE: PL S 221 and 222 are restricted to PL S majors.
A maximum of 6 credits of PL S 221 and 222 may be applied toward a degree.
PL S 231 • Law of Commerce for the Paralegal3
PL S 274 • Legal Research and Writing for the Paralegal I3
PL S • 275 • Tort and Insurance Law for the Paralegal
—OR— PL S 276 • Wills, Trusts, and Probate for the Paralegal
PL S 278 • Litigation for the Paralegal3
PL S 279 • Legal Research and Writing for the Paralegal II3
Choose 4 of the following elective courses:
PL S 161 • Legal Terminology (3 cr.)
PL S 162 • Virtual Law Office (3 cr.)
PL S 203 • Immigration Law (3 cr.)
PL S 255 • Special Topics (3 cr.)
PL S 272 • Bankruptcy Law for the Paralegal (3 cr.)
PL S 277 • Family Law for the Paralegal (3 cr.)
PL S 298 • Independent Study (3 cr.)