The paralegal profession is in high demand, legal experts say, and Eastern New Mexico University is helping supply the profession with more qualified individuals.
ENMU is offering a paralegal course through the Office of Extended Learning beginning Feb. 17.
Scott Hatch of The Center for Legal Studies in Golden, Colo., started the program in 1980. Hatch wrote the curriculum for the course.
“There’s not much competition in the paralegal field in that area (eastern New Mexico),” Hatch said. “The only law students that come from New Mexico are from the University of New Mexico. It’s one of the top law schools in the nation, but there’s not many local law schools in that area.”
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Brett Carter and Portales attorney Eric D. Dixon are a couple of attorneys who have participated in teaching and lecturing the course in the past, according to Geralyn Million, the extended learning special program coordinator.
Dixon said he taught the course in February of 2003 and Hatch said Carter will teach the course this semester.
“They were all good students,” Dixon said of his teaching stint. “They learned quiet a lot during the course. There’s a huge demand for paralegals all over the southwest, in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It’s one of the fastest growing professions.”
Dixon said that students earning their certificates can work in different capacities in the local area.
“They can work in the district attorney’s office or for public defenders,” Dixon said. “They can teach and work in law offices. The military and government agencies use paralegals.”
Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate. Million said that it is a non-credit course. Million said that extended learning offers many non-credit courses and that the number of courses has grown since she first took over the position in 1996. The number of courses offered by extended learning was 20 after her first year and that number is now at 56.
“All of the courses offered are so beneficial to people in the community,” Million said. “We try to have good scheduling to accommodate their schedules. I’m proud to say the program has grown since 1996.”
The live lecture classes will be held for six weeks from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Tuition for the program is $845 per person. Million recommends registering for the class at least 10 days in advance and to register call 562-2165.