November/December 2023

Message from the Dean

The 2023-2024 academic year has been off to a great start. We kicked it off by welcoming the Class of 2026 – a strong class of students with richly diverse backgrounds. We celebrated the acquisition of the leasehold to the New Mexico Law Center building next door. We also held three symposia this fall – the Tribal Law Journal Symposium, the Natural Resources Journal Symposium, and the New Mexico Law Review Symposium. The School of Law and the Board of the Alumni Association also welcomed a new class of honorees at our Distinguished Achievement Awards Dinner. In conjunction with the UNM Alumni Association, we hosted a Lobo Living Room distinguished lecture about the U.S. Supreme Court presented by Andy Schultz.

This winter break provides a welcome retreat. From all of us at the UNM School of Law, we wish you a restful and joyous holiday season.

Happy Holidays,

Camille Carey


Lobo Living Room: The United States Supreme Court: Behind the Velvet Curtain

The Lobo Living Room, hosted by the UNM Alumni Association, welcomed Andrew Schultz (84) who presented a distinguished lecture “The United States Supreme Court: Behind the Velvet Curtain at the UNM School of Law on November 15, 2023. 

Andy is a director and the former president and managing director of Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, P.A. Schultz currently serves as Chair of the firm’s Complex and Commercial Litigation practice group. From 1985 to 1986, Schultz served as a law clerk to Byron R. White, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He is the only graduate of the UNM School of Law to serve as a law clerk on the United States Supreme Court. From 1984 to 1985, Schultz clerked for the Honorable Alvin B. Rubin, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He has served as an adjunct professor and frequent lecturer at the UNM School of Law for more than 30 years.

Thank you to all who attended the lecture! You can view the lecture here.

Natural Resources Journal Symposium on New Mexico's Just Transition

The UNM School of Law’s Natural Resources Journal and Speaker of the House Javier Martinez co-sponsored a symposium on New Mexico’s Just Transition on November 3, 2023. The Utton Transboundary Resources Center and The UNM Just Transition Grand Challenge were also very involved in the symposium. The symposium offered a discussion on how New Mexico can create paths to clean energy transition while providing equitable opportunities for all communities. The symposium hosted three panels of professionals to address the topics. 

The panelists included: Representative Kristina Ortez, New Mexico House of Representatives; Barry Dixon, Business Manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers; Secretary Sarita Nair, Cabinet Secretary New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions; Joseph Lee, Business Agent of the International Union of Operating Engineers; Ahtza Dawn Chavez, Executive Director of Naeva; María Romano, Somos Un Pueblo Unido; Professor Shannon Sánchez-Youngman, Associate Director for Participatory Research and Evaluation at the Center for Participatory Research at UNM; Professor Gabriel Sanchez, UNM Professor of Political Science; Michael Leon Guerrero, Economic Sustainability Advisor for the Center for Civic Policy; James Povijua, Chair of the Sustainable Economy Advisory Council and Regional Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Representative Angelica Rubio, New Mexico House of Representatives; Rob Black, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce; Professor Serge Martinez, Professor at the UNM Shool of Law; Shani Harvie, JEDI Coordinator at the New Mexico Economic Development Department; Rebecca Roose, Infrastructure Advisor for the Office of Governor Lujan Grisham; Professor Gabe Pacyniak, Professor at the UNM School of Law; Jacob Vigil, Deputy Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children; Representative Nathan Small, New Mexico House of Representatives.

Photo credit: Dylan DeYapp, Anderson School of Management

Tribal Law Journal Symposium on Johnson v. M'Intosh

The University of New Mexico School of Law’s Tribal Law Journal held its symposium: 200 Years Since Johnson v. MIntosh: The Cases’s Impact on Native Communities and Tribal Governments” online on November 9, 2023. 

The symposium reviewed Johnson’s impact on native communities and tribal governments. The speakers were: Professor Matthew Fletcher, Harry Burns Hutchins Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan School of Law; Professor Kekek Stark, Professor and Director at the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the University of Montana; Professor Richard Collins, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Professor Robert Miller, Willard H. Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar, Professor of Law at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. They discussed the Doctrine of Discovery and its impact on contemporary issues facing Native communities. Articles from the symposium will be published in the upcoming issue of the Tribal Law Journal.

UNM law professor earns national award for advancing Native American rights

Gloria Valencia-Weber, a professor emerita, regents professor, and Henry Weihofen Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law received the prestigious Pierce Hickerson Award from the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association (NLADA). Congratulations, Gloria!

Read more here.

Nominations are Open for the 2024 Distinguished Achievement Awards and the Promise Award

The nomination deadline is February 15, 2024. Please do not wait to nominate.

The Distinguished Achievement Awards Dinner was created by the UNM School of Law Alumni Association to celebrate notable accomplishments and dedicated service by lawyers and others in the legal community to the UNM School of Law, the New Mexico legal community, and the greater community inside and outside of New Mexico.

The 2024 awards dinner will take place on October 18, 2024, at 5:30pm and nominations are now open. To nominate someone you think is deserving please click here.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Scholarship Donor and Recipient Luncheon

The 2023 Scholarship Donor and Recipient Luncheon was held at the UNM School of Law on November 10, 2023. The luncheon brought together donors and student scholarship recipients to celebrate the inspirational and transformative power of academic scholarships.

This year marked the inaugural award for the Phil Davis Memorial Scholarship. Phil’s son and UNM School of Law alumnus Nick Davis (’14) spoke at the luncheon. He credited Peter Cubra and the many other donors touched by Phil’s life for creating the scholarship. Diego Guerrerortiz (3L) also spoke at the luncheon as the first scholarship recipient.

Thank you to all of our donors who make these scholarships possible.

Tenth Annual Senior Lawyers Division Attorney Memorial Scholarship Presentation and Reception

The tenth annual Senior Lawyers Division Attorney Memorial Scholarship Presentation and Reception was held on November 14, 2023, at the State Bar. The annual event honors lawyers who have passed away while simultaneously awarding generous scholarships to three School of Law students. Students were selected based on their essay response to the question - what are the implications of indicting a U.S. President? Noah Allaire, Laura Ingersol, and Andy Lantz were awarded the scholarships.

Noted alumnus Bradford Zeikus was memorialized at the ceremony. Brad served as President of the Senior Lawyers Division and was instrumental in the creation of the annual scholarship essay contest. Brad was also a longtime member and previous President of the UNM School of Law Alumni Board.

We are thankful for the support from the Senior Lawyers Division.


Professor Nadine Padilla

  • Participated in a panel titled Law School and Legal Careers in a Nutshell at the 54th Annual National Indian Education Association Convention where she discussed her career path, how she became a law professor, and why students should consider attending the UNM School of Law.

Professor Vanessa Racehorse

  • Published “Indigenous Influence on the Rights of Nature Movement” in the Fall 2023 edition of Natural Resources & Environment, the quarterly magazine of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.
  • Presented introductory remarks and a primer on Johnson v. M’Intosh for the Tribal Law Journal’s Symposium 200 Years Since Johnson v. M’Intosh: The Case’s Impacts on Native Communities and Tribal Governments. 

Professor Gabe Pacyniak

  • Received the Southwest Energy Efficiency Projects (SWEEPs) Leadership Award for his part of numerous programs that help reduce energy waste and assist low-income families in the community.

Professor Sonia Gipson Rankin

  • Participated in a panel for the Duke Law Center for Law, Race, & Policy on October 26, 2023, available here.
  • Participated in a panel for the New Mexico Business Law Institute titled The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Practice of Law on November 1, 2023.
  • Participated in a panel with William D. Slease and Ryan M. Walters titled The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Practice of Law. A photo is available here
  • Participated in a panel for the Wisconsin Law Review Symposium on November 3, 2023, discussing her recent publication in NYU Law Review online. Photos are available here and here
  • Participated in a panel for the New Mexico Impact Investing Collaborative and presented How Capital Can Be Deployed to Uplift Communities.
  • Was the keynote speaker for the New Mexico Technology in Education 2023 Conference on November 9, 2023, titled Bytes and Insights: The Bright and Blurry Sides of AI in Education.
  • Attended the Computing Community Consortium’s Leadership in Science Policy Institute (LiSPI) on November 17, 2023. A photo is available here.

Professor Maryam Ahranjani

  • Authored, along with a group of elite scholars, an amicus brief relating to the Colorado Disqualification Clause involving former President Trump. Among the scholars who authored the amicus brief are: Floyd Abrams, Civil Rights Attorney; Professor Bruce Ackerman, Law and Political Science Professor at Yale; Lee Bollinger, President Emeritus of Columbia and former Dean at Michigan Law; Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean at Berkeley; Professor Martha Minow, Professor and Dean Emerita at Harvard; Professor Alan Chen, Alumni Professor of Law at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law; Professor Kent Greenfield, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School; and Professor Geoffrey Stone, Professor at the University of Chicago. 
  • Spoke on November 9, 2023 to the faculty at UNLV Boyd Law about her most recent American University Law Review article, “The Constitutional Costs of School Policing.” Photos are available here and here
  • Participated in a panel on the Through the Flower Art Place titled “Human Rights in a Dangerous and Divided World.”
  • Presented a training to the New Mexico Association of School Psychologists on the relationship between their ethical standards (Standard III.2.3. Priority of Child Welfare and IV.1.2. Promoting Systems Change) on school security measures like threat assessments, restraint and seclusion, police interrogations of students, and other practices.
  • Was a host of the annual Marshall-Brennan Project High School Moot Court Competition that took place at the UNM School of Law on November 18, 2023. Competition co-directors Abby Lutz and Sophie Bunch, Emilie McVay-Ash, Beverly Akin, Cheryl Burbank, Greg Garcia, Jackie Ibarra, and many others contributed to the organizational success of the event. Photos are available herehere, and here

Professor Joshua Kastenberg

Washington D.C. Alumni and Student Reception

Hooman Hedayati (’14) hosted a reception in Washington D.C. for our alumni and Semester in D.C. Program students on November 2, 2023. D.C. alumni make up one of the largest alumni groups outside of New Mexico. We are thankful to our D.C. mentors, Tequila Brooks, Denise Coca, Michael Connelly, Michelle Engert, Hooman Hedayati, Jeffrey Luster, Joshuah Marshall, Anne Noel Occhialino, Jennifer Thomas, Connie Tsosie de Haro, and Craig Williams. Our students this year were Valerie Dibernardo (2L), Isabelle Lopez (2L), Chance Mitchell (3L), Christina Street (2L), and Maria Trujillo (3L).  

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