Photo: Mary Pareja

Mary Pareja

Professor of Law

  • Pamela B. Minzner Chair in Professionalism


  • A.B., 1991, Smith College
  • J.D., 1996, Georgetown University of Law Center

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-2268
 Fax: 505-277-1597
 Office: 3120


Mary Leto Pareja has been teaching at the UNM School of Law since the fall of 2005. Before moving to Albuquerque, she spent nearly nine years in private practice. Most recently, Pareja was an equity partner at a large Denver law firm with offices around the world. While in private practice, she specialized in employee benefits law, and worked primarily on issues related to pension, retirement, and health plans.

At the UNM School of Law, Pareja teaches Health Law, Torts, and Tax as well as supplementing the business law curriculum as needed. In addition, she regularly travels to Madrid, Spain as part of UNM’s Madrid Summer Law Institute and teaches Spanish law students about U.S. law and the common law legal system.

Pareja's research interests focus on economic justice issues, including asset building, wealth preservation, and retirement and health security for low- and middle-income individuals and communities. She is particularly interested in how the tax system can be used to effectively and efficiently promote economic independence, with particular emphasis on women’s issues, low-income taxpayer issues, and health and retirement security issues.

Pareja speaks Spanish fluently.


Business and Tax Clinic

Pre-requisite: Completion of first year curriculum. Pre- or co-requisite: Ethics.
Preference: Completion of Federal Income Tax and any Business Law courses.

Summer 2013--Prof. Nathalie Martin, Prof. Grace Allison
Fall 2013--Prof. James Butler, Prof. Mary Pareja
Spring 2014--Prof. James Butler, Prof. Mary Pareja

This clinic section is part of the law school's Economic Development program.  Although specific types of client matters cannot be guaranteed, the Business and Tax Clinic will emphasize the following:

  • student representation of low-income taxpayers in disputes before the IRS and the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, including Tax Court litigation, audit defense, and collections matters;
  • assistance to startup and established nonprofit organizations seeking IRS recognition of tax-exempt status and other operational assistance;
  • support of community-based efforts to promote economic development; and
  • legal services to low-income, small-business clients who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Small-business cases will likely include the following:

  • giving advice on the choice and formation of business entities;
  • drafting organizational documents;
  • reviewing and drafting leases, purchase and licensing arrangements and other contracts; and
  • resolving business disputes.

Cases and instruction will also include matters of personal interest to a new lawyer seeking to open his or her own practice.  We strive to provide a broad-spectrum experience, including pure transactional practice (small business startup, contract drafting), dispute resolution (IRS controversy, small case business controversies) and consumer protection (bankruptcy, foreclosure defense and consumer credit dispute resolution).  

Clients of the law school’s Clinical Law Program include individuals and organizations that have multiple legal and non-legal needs and objectives.  Students of the Business and Tax Clinic often collaborate with students of the Community Lawyering Clinic or Southwest Indian Law Clinic in providing services to these clients.

Students will be required (1) to attend and actively participate in up to five classroom sessions (ten during summer’s first three weeks) during each week of the academic semester and (2) to maintain, in addition to classroom hours, a schedule of 24 (2-hours block) fixed office hours (physically present in the clinic, working on clinic matters) each week during Summer, or 16 (2-hours block) fixed office hours each week during Fall and Spring semesters.

Students having specific questions about the Business and Tax Clinic are encouraged to visit with Profs. Allison, Butler, Martin, or Pareja.

Employee Benefits

See Professor for course description.

Estate and Retirement Planning

Estate and Retirement Planning is a survey course in which students begin to learn how individuals may arrange their affairs such that:

1. An individual's wealth and well-being will be managed adequately during his or her lifetime, even if the individual becomes incapacitated.
2. The individual's wealth will pass efficiently (a) through life-time gifts or upon the individual's death to those persons the individual chooses, and (b) in a manner that minimizes taxes and expenses and takes into account the special needs a particular beneficiary may have.

The course begins with an overview of how property passes at death through the use of wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations or by operation of law. Next is an introduction to estate, gift and income tax considerations in transferring wealth gratuitously. Building on that foundation, the remainder of the course (1) focuses on selected planning issues and on strategies that individuals and couples may use to preserve and transfer wealth gratuitously, and (2) introduces students to aspects of retirement planning, life insurance and annuities, charitable giving and other topics.

As its name suggests, Estate Planning is a planning course and combines theory with practice. Students learn through readings, sample documents, problem sets, drafting, and class discussion. The course grade is based primarily on writing assignments that require students to draft and explain documents an estate planning attorney is likely to use in practice. There is no final exam.

Students who have not taken (and are not concurrently taking) Wills & Trusts or Federal Estate and Gift Tax may take Estate and Retirement Planning, but may find it necessary to do additional background work in those areas.

Because this course is being taught by an adjunct professor, the course does NOT satisfy the law school writing requirement.

Federal Income Tax

The goals of the course are for the student to acquire: (1) a broad perspective as to the application and impact of the federal income tax in a variety of transactions; (2) practice in using the legal materials of taxation, especially the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations; and (3) an understanding of the policies underlying various IRC provisions, i.e., how the tax system is used to influence behavior and thus promote various social and economic policies.

Health Law

Course Description

The Health Law course is a traditional law school course that will focus on the fundamental legal principles underlying the provision of health care in the United States.  Using a practical problem-oriented approach, we will discuss:

  1. Quality Control in Health Care – licensing of health care providers, limitations on the scope of practice of  non-physician and alternative providers, accreditation of health care institutions, and basic malpractice law
  2. Confidentiality (Including Common Law issues and HIPAA), and Informed Consent
  3. Cost and Access: Private Insurance and Managed Care,  Medicare, Medicaid and Charity Care (including current litigation over the ACA)
  4. Business Structure of the Healthcare Enterprise

This course will use Furrow, et al., Health Law (6th ed. 2007) and the 2011 Health Reform Supplement.   This course is not open to first year law students.  There will be a midterm exam and a final exam.

See Professor for course description.

Sale of Goods

The topic of this course is the sale of goods. We will engage in a detailed study of Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code. We also will look at other portions of the Uniform Commercial Code that interact with Article 2 as well as common law concepts that are important to the sale of goods. We will be looking at our topic mainly from a domestic law context, but we will address the applicability of international sales law as well, including the applicability of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

See Professor for course description.


Torts is an introduction to the system governing civil liability for wrongs. Unlike contract law, in which persons establish standards governing their relations in private agreements, tort law imposes rights and duties between persons even when the parties have not done so by contract. Unlike criminal law which the government (rather than the victim) imposes societal standards through the medium litigation seeking punishment for violation of criminal law, tort litigation is controlled by the injured person who seeks not punishment, but personal compensation via money damages from the person whose violation of the laws of torts cause harm to the victim. Course coverage focuses on the tort of Negligence. As time permits, other torts are analyzed.



California v. Texas: The Role of Congressional Procedure in Severability Doctrine, 45(1) SETON HALL LEGIS. J. 69 (2021).
Available at: UNM-DR

Humanizing Work Requirements for Safety Net Programs, 39 PACE L. REV. 833 (2019).
Available at: UNM-DR

Inviting Everyone to the ACA (Risk) Pool Party: The Problem with Using Advanceable, Income-Based Tax Credits to Subsidize Health Insurance, 20 FLA. TAX REV 551 (2017).
Available at: SSRN

Beyond the Affordable Care Act’s Premium Tax Credit: Expanding Protection for Domestic Abuse Victims, 38 HAMLINE L. REV. 241 (2015).
Available at: UNM-DR

Earned Income Tax Credit Portability: Respecting the Autonomy of American Families, 117 W. VA. L. REV. (2014).
Available at: UNM-DR

Bar & Trade Publications

Community Engagement and Social Activism in Legal AcademiaNEW LAW PROFESSORS (American Association of Law Schools, December 2017).

HIPAA Privacy and Security: Issues for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, THE COLORADO LAWYER (October 2004).
Available at: UNM-DR

Significant New Requirements for Group Health Plans, INDIANA CONSTRUCTOR (Associated General Contractors of Indiana, October/November 1997) (co-authored).

Portability Law Changes Health Insurance, ISSUES IN BUSINESS (Indiana Chamber of Commerce, September 1997) (co-authored).


Beyond the Affordable Care Act’s Premium Tax Credit: Expanding Protection for Domestic Abuse Victims, ClassCrits VII Conference, UC Davis (November 2014).

Handling a Federal Income Tax Controversy, Albuquerque Bar Association, Albuquerque, NM (March 1, 2011).
Description at: Albuquerque Bar

Health Savings Accounts under the New Medicare Act, Western Pension & Benefits Conference Annual Meeting, Portland, OR (August 1-4, 2004).

Minimum Required Distributions Under Code § 401(a)(9), Accountants' Tax Seminar, Denver, CO (November 5, 2003).

HIPAA Privacy: An Employer's To Do List, Western Pension & Benefits Conference Annual Meeting, Monterey, CA (June 22-25, 2003).

Cafeteria Plan Update, Western Pension & Benefits Conference, Denver Chapter, Winter Conference, Denver, CO (March 19, 2002).

The IRS's Latest Word on COBRA, Mid-America Human Resources Symposium, Cincinnati, OH (June 10-11, 1999).

Welfare Issues on the Horizon, Circle City Seminar, Indianapolis, IN (March 5, 1999).

HIPAA, COBRA, Mental Health Parity Act, Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act, Indianapolis Ass'n of Health Underwriters, Indianapolis, IN (November 10, 1998).

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