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Class Notes


Norman S. Thayer recently celebrated his 50th anniversary with Sutin, Thayer & Browne. He is of counsel to the firm. His practice has spanned a range of complex litigation involving contracts, banking, real estate matters, products liability, antitrust, securities, corporations and partnerships, government litigation, engineering, accounting, medical and legal malpractice, secured transactions, construction, shopping center leasing, taxation, insurance, civil rights, personal injuries and wrongful death, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in all matters.


Clarence Bass was recognized at the Take Charge Conference in Austin, TX on September 27th. The conference focused on cutting-edge techniques and issues in exercise science and paid tribute to Bass, an expert in exercise, fitness, and healthy aging. The conference centered on Bass’s latest book Take Charge: Fitness at the Edge of Science, and all three panel topics were taken from the book. At the end of the conference, Bass gave thanks to his life and business partner, Carol Bass, and all of his friends and followers who helped throughout the years.


John C. Wheeler practices elder law in Truth or Consequences. He is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Care Planning Council.


Ruth Schifani was honored with the 2014 Zia Award by the UNM Alumni Association on September 27, 2014. She is an attorney with Modrall Sperling and an experienced practitioner in Banking and Real Estate Law. Schifani previously served as president of the UNM Alumni Association as well as the Albuquerque Bar Association and as a member of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission.


John Leathers is general counsel of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a 450-lawyer firm based in Pittsburgh with offices in 10 other cities. He joined that firm in 2005, following 17 years in commercial litigation. After earning his J.D., Leathers received an LL.M. from Columbia University and spent the next 16 years as a law professor.


Ronald Segel was recognized in the 2013 Best Lawyers in America directory for his work in plaintiffs’ personal injury litigation. He practices with Sutin, Thayer & Browne.


Noel "Abby" Abinanti became the first Native American to be admitted to the State Bar of California in 1974. She served as a San Francisco Superior Court commissioner, acted as judge for several Western tribes, and established the Yurok Tribe’s fishing court. She is now the tribal court’s chief justice.

In an interview with Heather Steinberger for an article in "Indian Country," Chief Judge Abinanti says, "UNM was the home school for the Indian law program. I never really wanted to go into law, but I was told that we needed lawyers more than journalists. So I pursued it."

Chief Judge Abinanti is featured in two articles in the LA Times:

Walter Echo-Hawk authored "In the Courts of the Conqueror: The Ten Worst Indian Law cases Ever Decided", a 576-page book that looks at how court decisions through the years have shaped life in Indian country across the United States. The book was published in 2010. He is of counsel to the Crowe & Dunleavy law firm of Oklahoma.

Echo-Hawk represents Indian tribes on important legal issues, such as treaty rights, water rights, and religious freedom, prisoner and repatriation rights. He is a Native American attorney, tribal judge, author, activist, and law professor.

Echo-Hawk recently gave a talk on March 3, 2014 at the UNM Law School regarding his book, "In The Light Of Justice: Human Rights in Native America."


John Draper formed a new law firm, Draper & Draper LLC with his son Matthew that specializes in water and international law in March 2014. He is currently counsel for the states of New Mexico, Montana and Kansas in U.S. Supreme Court cases involving disputes over interstate rivers. Draper was honored with the Zia Award by the UNM Alumni Association on September 27, 2014.

Norm Gagne retired in 2008 from active litigation and trial practice and now limits his practice to mediation. In 2012, he was appointed to a four year term on the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission. The New Mexico State Constitution created the Commission to receive and investigate complaints about judges for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and to make recommendations to the Supreme Court for discipline.

Catherine Goldberg was honored at the State Bar Meeting’s special reception with the Justice Pamela B. Minzner Professionalism Award on July 19th, 2014. She received the highest award given by the State Bar due to her outstanding professional conduct over many years of practice and for her involvement in the Albuquerque community through her service on the boards of many community organizations. Goldberg is a director in the Rodey Law Firm and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. She practices in the areas of real estate, financings, banking, foreclosures, commercial law, leases, contracts and corporate law.


Paul W. Grimm was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in early December 2012. Previously, he had served as a U.S. magistrate judge for Maryland since 1997 and as chief judge since 2006. Grimm has been a frequent lecturer at CLE programs on issues regarding evidence and civil procedure, and has lectured throughout the United States regarding discovery of electronically stored information and its admissibility in civil and criminal proceedings.


Thomas Acevedo was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. He is a CEO of S&K Technologies, a family of tribally owned businesses in northwestern Montana. He previously served as chief of staff for the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Diane Fisher is senior vice president and general counsel for Presbyterian Healthcare Services.


Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will be giving a talk with the title “Women Taking Power Seriously” at the Connecticut Science Center on October 16, 2014. As the State of Maryland’s first woman Lieutenant Governor, Townsend was in charge of a multimillion dollar budget and had oversight of major cabinet departments. Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Townsend served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States. Townsend chairs and sits on numerous boards and recently founded Georgetown University’s Center for Retirement Initiatives. Earlier this year, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed her chair of Maryland’s Task Force to Ensure Retirement Security. She is also the Managing Director at a multi billion dollar asset management firm in Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Group. Townsend has taught foreign policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and has been a visiting Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. An honors graduate of Harvard University, Townsend was also a member of the law review at the UNM Law School.


Gail Gottlieb was recognized in the 2013 Best Lawyers in America directory for her work in bankruptcy litigation, bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law. She also was named to the 2012 list of Top 250 Female Litigators in America, a new publication by Benchmark Litigation, She practices with Sutin, Thayer & Browne.

Mario Mainero has been selected as the 2014 St. Thomas More Society Attorney of the Year for the Orange County chapter. He is the faculty advisor to the St. Thomas More Society student organization at Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law. Mainero taught a number of classes including Legal Research, Writing and California Civil Procedure, and Legal Skills. He administers Chapman Law School's bar preparation program, which includes his bar preparation course and a free supplemental bar preparation program each winter and summer.


Kerry Kiernan received the designation, Lawyer of the Year, in appellate practice in the 2013 Best Lawyers in America directory. He also was included in the directory's Best Lawyers category for his work in appellate practice. Kiernan is with Sutin, Thayer & Browne.


Ann Marie has edited Letters to Ann, a book about the early years of the Korean War as seen through the letters sent to a four year old. Even through the war's darkest moments, Captain John F. Hughes finds and shares bits of humor about his experience with his daughter and provides a unique and intimate glimpse into "The Forgotten War." Ann Marie is a former KOB-TV television reporter and married to the son of Capt. Hughes, Richard L. Hughes. The book can be found at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Terry Moore was appointed as Assistant Principal Chief of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma on January 30, 2014. She fills a vacancy for a term that ends on June 30th and makes history as the first female Assistant Principal Chief. Prior to her appointment she served as one of the tribe's legal counsels.


Jeffry K. Finer is a senior litigator for the Center for Justice, a successful private non-profit public interest firm in Spokane, Washington, where he handles high-profile civil rights cases including the nationally known Spokane Gypsy case, prison litigation, class action cases, and a lively federal criminal defense practice. Finer has been named Spokane’s top civil rights lawyer for five years running by Spokane Living Magazine.

Andrew G. Schultz has been elected to the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico. He is a partner at the Rodey Law Firm and the leader of the firm's Complex and Commercial Litigation Practice Group. Schultz has a special interest in class action and civil rights litigation, along with other complex procedural and appellate work.

In 2014, Judge Melvin R. Stoof will be the first tribal judge in the country to hear a tribal criminal case against a non-Indian in 36 years. He is an associate judge on the Pascua Yaqui Trial Court, located near Tucson, Arizona. Read more about this story and Stoof's comments to the UNM Law School about the opportunity to bring justice to victims of domestic violence crimes committed by non-Indians on tribal lands.

Stoof was interviewed by Washington Post writer Sari Horwitz for an article titled, "A change in justice on Indian reservations." The article has received comments hundreds of likes, comments, and shares on the Washington Post Facebook page and attention from other media outlets.


Justice Barbara Vigil has been sworn in as chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, the state's highest court, located in Santa Fe, NM. She succeeded Justice Petra Jimenez Maes who completed her second term as chief justice in 2014 and remains on the court.

Justice Vigil was elected to the Supreme Court in 2012. She previously had served more than 12 years as a district court judge in the 1st Judicial District which includes Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.

Chief Justice Vigil is featured in two articles:


David Campbell is a foreign service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. A major part of his job is to coordinate with U.S. Department of Defense associates in Europe, the Middle East and Africa that monitor Somali-based ships that attack merchant vessels and hold their crews and cargo for ransom. He left a position as Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer in March 2011 to join the Foreign Service, a life-long dream.

Dixie Johnson will serve as the 2013-2014 ABA Business Law Chair. The 2012-2013 chair, Martin E. Lybecker, officially "passed the gavel" to Johnson at the Business Law Section Luncheon during the 2013 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. As the ABA's Business Law Chair, Johnson will represent business lawyers from throughout the ABA in the leading issues of the day. Dixie Johnson is co-head of Fried Frank's Securities Enforcement and Regulation practice. She also co-heads the firm's White Collar Criminal Defense and Securities Enforcement practice group, representing businesses and individuals in government securities investigations from her office in Washington, DC.


Lisa Chavez was selected by the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association to receive the 2014 recipient of the Pierce-Hickerson Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement or preservation of Native American rights. The award will be presented at NLADA’s annual national conference in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2014.

Chavez is the Managing Attorney of the Native American Program (NMLA) and has devoted her career to advocating for low income and disenfranchised Native Americans. She served as the Litigation and Executive Director of Indian Pueblo Legal Services, Inc. During the past decade, she has twice served as NMLA’s Interim Executive Director. She continues to be a visionary leader and leading member of NMLA’s senior management team.

Frank Sedillo a Metropolitan Court Judge, host of "The Advocate", and a licensed coach and official for the New Mexico Activities Association, was honored by the UNM Alumni Association with a Zia Award during the 2013 Homecoming week. The Zia Award is awarded to UNM alumni who have distinguished themselves in categories such as philanthropic endeavors, public office, and service to the university.


Allen Smith, who is a partner with the Smith & Payne, P.C. law firm in Los Lunas, has been selected by Governor Susana Martinez as the Thirteenth Judicial District Family Court Division Judge. He will start his new position on April 28, 2014.

Smith was a senior trial prosecutor and deputy district attorney for the Sixth Judicial District Attorney's office in Silver City from 1995 to 2005, and was in private practice from 1986 to 1995, and again from 2005 to the present.

Jennifer L. Stone has received the highest AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. She is a Director at Rodey Law in Albuquerque and group leader of the firm’s Healthcare Transactions and Regulation section. She has represented and advised health care facilities, physicians and other health professionals. Her practice concentrates on the representation of hospitals, insurers, medical groups, healthcare professionals and other healthcare entities. Stone is a current member of the Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. She is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America for her expertise and experience in administrative/regulatory law and health care law.


Bryan E. Brock was named as the director of the UNM Office of Equal Opportunity. His appointment begins on July 14, 2014. He most recently was the director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at the New Mexico Department of Transportation in Santa Fe.

Roger Smith has been promoted to partner and shareholder at the Revo Law Firm. The Albuquerque firm has changed its name to the Revo/Smith Law Firm. Smith joined the firm in 2005 and practices in the areas of personal injury, insurance, medical malpractice and criminal defense.


Christopher A. Holland was selected by the Best Lawyers directory as Albuquerque’s Best Lawyer of the Year 2015 in Education Law. He represents public entities and corporate clients in state and federal court and administrative proceedings. Mayor Richard Berry recently appointed Chris to the City of Albuquerque Personnel Board.

David Johnson has been selected a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is a name partner with Bannerman & Johnson in Albuquerque.


Eduardo Duffy was selected as one of the best lawyers of the Year 2015 for Securities/Capital Market Law. He represents public and private companies in securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, reorganizations and general corporate matters at Sutin, Thayer & Browne law firm.

Virginia R. Dugan has been included in Super Lawyers since 2008 and in Best Lawyers in America since 2010. She was named as the Family Law Attorney of the Year in 2014, a Woman of Influence by Albuquerque Business First for 2013 and Best of the Bar in Family Law for 2011. Dugan is a shareholder at Atkinson & Kelsey practicing in divorce and family law, is a recognized Family Law Specialist, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Susan Hapka was recognized for her work in employment law – management in the 2013 Best Lawyers in America directory. She practices with Sutin, Thayer & Browne.


Danny W. Jarrett was recognized in the 2014 edition of Chambers USA as one of America's Leading Lawyers for Business. He is currently the Office Managing Shareholder of the Albuquerque, New Mexico office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Twila B. Larkin was selected as one of the Best Lawyers of the Year 2015 for Family Law in Albuquerque! She practices exclusively in the area of family law, which encompasses divorce, child custody and time sharing, child support, alimony and the valuation and division of complex assets (professional practices, businesses) in the divorce context.


Robert Doughty III was appointed to the UNM Board of Regents in December 2014 by Governor Susana Martinez. Doughty is a lawyer with the Albuquerque firm of Doughty, Alcaraz, & deGraauw, P.A., where he focuses primarily on civil claims andlitigation in the areas of insurance defense, governmental entity representation, risk management, personal injury, construction defect, and medical malpractice, among others. Doughty currently serves as chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission.

J. Brent Moore was elected secretary-treasurer of the 2013 New Mexico Board of Bar Commissioners. He is a shareholder with Montgomery & Andrews and works in the firm's Santa Fe office. He focuses his practice on governmental relations, insurance regulation and environmental law. He also was elected in 2012 to a three-year term as secretary of the board of directors of Leadership New Mexico.

Ray M. Vargas, II, was named one of the Top 25 Lawyers in New Mexico by the Southwest 2014 Edition of Super Lawyers Magazine. Vargas practices at The Vargas Law Firm LLC in Albuquerque, focusing on Medical Malpractice, Insurance Coverage, and Commercial Litigation for Plaintiffs.

Vargas established the Ray M. Vargas, II Endowed Scholarship for aspiring trial lawyers at the Law School in 2013. The Scholarship is awarded to a second- or third-year student who has a demonstrated interest plaintiff/trial work including the related subjects of evidence, trial practice, civil procedure, pre-trial practice, client counseling, and/or professional responsibility.

In March, 2014, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Judge Marie Ward of Albuquerque to the Second Judicial District Division XIV Children's Court. "Marie Ward's wealth of experience in the law, particularly regarding children and families, makes her an ideal choice for this position," said Governor Martinez. "I have the utmost confidence that she will carry out her duties with the best interest of the children that come before her in mind." Ward serves as a family court hearing officer for the Second Judicial District Court, presiding over hearings and making recommendations to the district court judge. Her diverse career as an attorney spans nearly 16 years, including three years as a special assistant attorney general and nearly ten years with the Second Judicial District Court.

Whitney Warner, a founding partner at Moody & Warner, an Albuquerque labor and employment law firm, has been elected a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.


In December 2013, Michael Aragon was appointed to the N.M. Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. He is currently in private practice as sole owner of the Aragon Law Office in Las Vegas and specializes in criminal defense.


Bidtah Becker, an assistant attorney general for the Navajo Nation, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to the Institute of American Indian Arts’ board of trustees. She will serve a term expiring on May 19, 2018. On the 12-member board, Becker will assist in formulating policies and bylaws for IAIA, as well as direct strategic planning. Before becoming assistant attorney general for the Natural Resources Unit of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice, Becker served in the Water Rights Unit from 2004-12, and in the Human Services and Government Unit from 2002-04.

Raúl Burciaga was selected, along with legislators and legislative staff from other states, by the National Conference of State Legislatures to provide technical training workshops to staff of the Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique during the first week in June 2014. The workshops include new member orientation, parliamentary diplomacy and conflict this assignment is part of a contract with the U.S. State Department.

Judge Gina Manfredi was appointed by Governor Susana Martinez to serve in the New Mexico 13th Judicial District on July 9, 2014. She has worked as a prosecutor in the 2nd and 13th Judicial District Attorneys’ offices, and was an assistant city attorney in Rio Rancho.


Erika Anderson was elected vice president of the 2013 New Mexico Board of Bar Commissioners. She is a civil litigation lawyer at French & Associates where she focuses on governmental liability, civil rights, personal injury, general tort liability and employment litigation. She is chair-elect for the American Bar Association Tort, Trial and Insurance Practice Section Trial Techniques Committee and is a past president of the New Mexico Women's Bar Association.

Matt Chandler was appointed to the UNM Board of Regents in December 2014 by Governor Susana Martinez. Chandler previously served as District Attorney for the Ninth Judicial District of New Mexico from 2004-2014. He was the youngest District Attorney to be elected in New Mexico at the age of 27 and has over 12 years of prosecutorial experience. During his tenure, Chandler was appointed Special Prosecutor for the United States Attorney’s Office and assisted in the investigation, indictments, and convictions of dozens of members of the white supremacist gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood. In 2014, Chandler opened his own private law office in Clovis, NM, where he focuses on family and employment law, estate planning, and complex litigation. Chandler attended the UNM Law School in his third year as a visiting student and received his J.D. from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Brian S. Colón, attorney at Robles, Rael & Anaya, PC, was selected as the outstanding volunteer fundraiser in New Mexico and has been named a 2014 National Philanthropy Day Honorees by the Association of Fundraising Professionals New Mexico Chapter. He has a civil practice and extensive experience assisting individuals and organizations work with local, state, and federal elected officials. Colón was named Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the NM State Bar and one of New Mexico's Forty under 40 Power Brokers by the New Mexico Business Weekly. He has served and continues to serve with many Boards of Directors including the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, Albuquerque Community Foundation Future Fund and helped found and served on Popejoy Hall's Board of Directors for a decade. Colon currently serves as president of the board for both the UNM Alumni Association & Spanish Colonial Arts Society.

Bryan C. Garcia, president of Garcia Law Group LLC, was named a director representing the Southwest region of the Defense Research Institute — one of the largest legal industry organizations in the country. He is also serving on the organization's Governance, Trucking, and State and Local Defense Organizations committees.

Elizabeth Rourke was selected as the next D.V. Hearing Officer at the Second Judicial District Family Court. She is the legal director at Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit organization that provides legal representation in family law and restraining order cases; case management; individual and group counseling for children and adults and parenting classes to Spanish-speaking, immigrant victims of domestic violence.


Samantha Adams is featured in the November 21st print edition of Albuquerque Business First People on the Move. She was listed in the 2015 edition of Top 250 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation for the third consecutive year. Adams practices in the areas of commercial litigation for business, construction and design, insurance, employment and education, and product and professional liability. She was also named among those in Southwest Super Lawyers® and "Woman of Influence" by the New Mexico Business Weekly. She also serves as immediate past-president of the UNM Law School Alumni Board.

Sarita Nair joined the Office of the State Auditor as Chief Legal Counsel in January 2015. She is AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell, and has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Southwest Super Lawyers, and Chambers & Partners USA.

Elisa L. Paster has joined the Glaser Weil law firm's Government and Regulatory Law Practice Group as a Partner. She represents developers, land owners, investors and municipal governments in all aspects of land use and entitlement matters, including CEQA, Subdivision Map Act, Planning and Zoning Law compliance, redevelopment areas and development agreements. Prior to joining the firm, Paster was a Partner with the law firm of Gilchrist & Rutter. She has been included on the list of Southern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars for three consecutive years.

Brenda M. Saiz was appointed to serve a three-year term as a member of the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel of the United States District Court for New Mexico. She is a director of the Rodey Law Firm in Albuquerque and practices in the Litigation Department with an emphasis on trucking law and professional liability. Her practice areas also include product liability, wrongful death, and insurance defense litigation, including bad faith.

Mariposa Padilla Sivage was elected as new shareholder for 2014 at Sutin Thayer and Browne Law Firm. She represents clients in a variety of civil and commercial litigation. Padilla Sivage has considerable experience representing governmental entities and public employees. She handles complex litigation involving prison liability, probate and estate disputes, construction claims, premises liability, civil rights, governmental defense, insurance and tort defense.

Padilla Sivage practices extensively in federal and state courts throughout New Mexico, as well as before administrative tribunals. She has handled appeals for clients in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and New Mexico Appellate Courts.


Tatiana D. Engelmann was named among the 2015 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars by Super Lawyers Magazine. She also received the “Rising Star” recognition from Super Lawyers in 2014. Engelmann is an Associate Attorney at Atkinson & Kelsey and focuses her practice in family law, including divorce, custody, child support, spousal support and collaborative law matters. She has previously practiced in many other areas of law including water, natural resources and real estate law, as well as construction and employment law.

Tatiana Engelmann-Corp has become an associate at the family law firm of Raines & Associates. She is a member of the New Mexico Collaborative Practice Group and a board member of the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico.

Christina Vigil Frazier was selected by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien for the 2014 Chair's Honor Award (CHA) Advancing Equality through Excellence "Gold Medal Award". This is the highest honor that the EEOC confers for unusual, extraordinary, notable or prestigious accomplishments. The award is special this year as the EEOC is celebrating its 50 year anniversary of fighting discrimination in the work place since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Helen Hecht has taken the position of General Counsel to the Multistate Tax Commission in Washington, D.C. beginning July 2014. She previously served as Tax Counsel to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Tiffany Oliver Leigh was selected as a “2014 Rising Star” by Super Lawyers. Tiffany Oliver Leigh is a shareholder at Little Gilman-Tepper Batley & Leigh, P.A. and is a Certified Family Law Specialist. Her practice is focused on a variety of family law cases including complex divorces involving business valuation, tax issues, property division, child custody, child support and prenuptial agreements. Leigh also co-founded the Divorce Options Workshop, a monthly community outreach program designed to teach pro se litigants how to solve their family law issues without the need for court intervention. This program received the 2013 Outstanding State Bar Program Award.

Representative Georgene Louis is serving her second term in the New Mexico Legislature. Louis represents House District 26 and serves as a member of the Judiciary, Health, and Gaming Compact committees. She is a member of Acoma Pueblo and was interviewed for the documentary "A Thousand Voices", which examines women in the Native American community in New Mexico.

Lynn E. Mostoller was elected a shareholder at Sutin, Thayer & Browne Lawyers in June 2014. She practices primarily in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law, administrative law and appeals. She has experience with shareholder and partner disputes, federal and state appeals, and both plaintiff and defense work in the employment law arena. In 2004, she clerked for Judge Harris Hartz at the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.


Timothy J. Atler was recently elected to become a shareholder at Sutin, Thayer & Browne. His practice includes a wide range of civil litigation and administrative/regulatory matters with a particular emphasis on appellate practice. Atler is the current chair of the State Bar Appellate Practice Section and has coached UNM’s Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) moot court team for the past several years. He clerked for Judge Michael D. Bustamante of the New Mexico Court of Appeals prior to joining the Sutin firm.

James E. Bristol III of Bristol Family Law, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and practices Family Law, including divorce, child custody and support, and mediation. He is on the Board and Secretary of the Family Law Section of the New Mexico State Bar. Bristol plans and promotes Family Law trainings and continuing legal education trainings, including the yearly Family Law Symposium. The Supreme Court of New Mexico appointed him to the Domestic Relations Rules Committee.

Denise M. Chanez has become a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She also was named a 2016 Woman of Influence by Albuquerque Business First. Chanez was elected to the Board of Directors of the Rodey Law Firm on January 21, 2015. She is the immediate past president of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association and named to Lawyers of Color’s Second Annual Hot List 2014, which recognizes early- to mid-career minority attorneys excelling in the legal profession. Chanez practices in the areas of medical malpractice defense, personal injury defense and media law.

Debra Haaland is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor of New Mexico. Since January 2013, Haaland has been the tribal administrator for the Pueblo of San Felipe, where she manages a variety of tribal programs and departments while directing and assisting the administration’s interests in federal, state and tribal political issues and relationships. She is also currently the Chairwoman of the Laguna Development Corporation Board of Directors. As the first woman elected to the position in the company’s history, Haaland helps oversee the business operations, strategies and initiatives of the second largest tribal gaming enterprise in New Mexico. She also currently serves as Chairwoman of the Native American Democratic Caucus of NM and a member of the Democratic Party of New Mexico’s State Platform and Resolutions Committee.

Cody R. Rogers was elected as one of the new directors at Miller Stratvert PA at the Annual Shareholder & Director Meeting on January 18, 2014. She practices in the areas of civil rights and public sector law, employment and human relations law, and professional liability in the Las Cruces office.

Nasha Y. Torrez (formerly Spall-Martinez) has joined the Albuquerque office of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos & Green. She represents school districts across New Mexico. Her practice focuses on general school law, employment and labor law, public meetings and records, contracts and procurement. Torrez previously served as the associate counsel to Gov. Bill Richardson and was the general counsel of the New Mexico State Fair.


Richard E. Hatch was elected to the Board of Directors of the Rodey Law Firm on January 21, 2015. He practices in the Litigation Department with an emphasis on medical malpractice defense litigation and in the areas of health law, wrongful death, product liability and general insurance defense. Hatch has earned the designation of “Rising Star” in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of Southwest Super Lawyers for his experience and expertise in civil litigation defense.

Seth McMillan became a shareholder at Montgomery and Andrews, PA in January 2014. He practices in the firm’s Santa Fe office in the areas of litigation, appellate law, and oil and gas.

Samantha Updegraff, a registered patent attorney, joined the Lewis and Roca LLP in Albuquerque, NM, in 2013. She focuses on all aspects of intellectual property including patents, trademarks, licensing and joint development agreements. Samantha has extensive patent prosecution experience and has represented clients from all backgrounds including independent inventors, major universities, venture capitalists, and companies of all sizes – from startups to large corporations. Her patent work is in diverse areas of science and technology, including renewable energy and solar technology fields, mechanical engineering, computer software, and chemical engineering. Her trademark prosecution practice includes trademark portfolio analysis, strategic counseling, searching and clearance of trademarks, domestic and worldwide registration, domain name issues, and licensing.


Mark Bolton was appointed to serve on the Colorado Nonprofit Association board of directors on May 22, 2014. He will help guide the organization on public policy efforts and overall direction. In early 2011, Bolton joined the government relations group of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and focused his practice in the areas of taxation, energy, business regulation and regulation of the legal profession, as well as covering a variety of general legislative issues.

Gbenoba Idah joined the firm's Natural Resources group at Modrall Sperling Lawyers in Santa Fe in June 2014. He assists clients with their regulatory matters, public agency related work, governmental affairs, commercial transactions and litigation. He has represented and advised health care facilities with regulatory matters in front of the New Mexico Department of Health, the Medical Assistance Division of the Human Services Department and its Fair Hearings Bureau, specifically related to compliance with Preadmission Screening and Resident Review (PASRR) and Medicaid laws at both the state and federal level. He served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the New Mexico Office of Attorney General where he litigated civil claims arising under New Mexico's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Robert Lucero was elected to the Board of Directors of the Rodey Law Firm on January 21, 2015. He practices in the Business Department with an emphasis on real estate, land use and finance law. Lucero assists clients throughout all phases of real estate development -- from acquisition and financing, to securing entitlements, to leasing and disposition. He also represents business clients before administrative bodies and the courts and is admitted to practice before all New Mexico state and federal courts, as well as before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Robert P. Matteucci Jr. was certified in February 2015 as a Family Law Specialist in the state of New Mexico. He focuses on a variety of practice areas at Atkinson & Kelsey, P.A. including Divorce, Child support, Custody, Property Division and Spousal Support. Matteucci is also the founder of the popular Albuquerque shoe business, Shoes on a Shoestring, but sold his business in 2003 to pursue his law degree.


In her position as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University, Tiffany Dowell has developed an agricultural law blog. The Texas Agriculture Law Blog addresses issues affecting landowners across Texas and the United States. The blog features basic information on Texas laws, provides information on specific legal issues such as pipeline easements and leasing, and offers a weekly post summarizing ag law in the news. The blog receives more than 2,100 visitors per month. “Agricultural law has always been my interest and my background has prepared me well for this type of work,” Dowell says. The blog may be found at:

Kate Fitz Gibbon serves on the board of the Elder Law Section of the New Mexico State Bar Association and works in the fields of art and cultural heritage law, elder law, estate planning and guardianship. She is a member of the Art and Cultural Heritage Law Committee of the American Bar Association and New Mexico Lawyers for the Arts.

DeAnza Valencia Sapien was named co-chair at State Bar of New Mexico Committee on Women and the Legal Profession. She specializes in business strategy, healthcare and legislative policy and serves on the Board of the New Mexico Women's Bar Association. Sapien also received the Student Bar Association Inaugural Award for Public Service in 2009.

Patrick Schaefer is the Executive Director of the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness at the University of Texas at El Paso. Read more in UNM Law School news.


Jennifer M. Anderson is featured in the November 21st print edition of Albuquerque Business First People on the Move. She has joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck as an associate in the Denver office. Anderson is a member of the Natural Resources Department. Her practice focuses on all aspects of natural resources and environmental law with a particular focus on water quality, remediation, water rights, telecommunications and energy. She has represented clients in court and before administrative agencies and testified as an expert in the area of Federal Communications Commission law before the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Prior to joining the firm, she served as the Director of Alcohol and Gaming for the State of New Mexico. Prior to that, Anderson practiced natural resources law at what is now Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP.

Thomas J. Bunting has joined Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Litigation Department. Bunting defends and prosecutes a wide range of actions arising from business disputes in both tort and contract. His practice includes representing health plans in private litigation and regulatory matters. He also renders insurance coverage opinions to policyholder clients and litigates coverage actions on their behalf. He has served as second-chair counsel in numerous trials to verdict.

Prior to joining the firm, Bunting was an associate at Miller Stratvert P.A. in Albuquerque.

Charles H. Kalm received the UNM 2013-2014 Outstanding Affiliated Teacher of the Year Award presented by the Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee and the Center for Teaching Excellence on May 7, 2014. He is a part-time adjunct lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at UNM and teaches Reasoning and Critical Thinking and the Philosophy of Law and Morals. His award is featured in the UNM Law School news.

Sheldon Spotted Elk was appointed as Chief of Staff at the Ute Indian Tribe, Business Committee, in Fort Duchesne, Utah, in July 2014. He has previously worked as a guardian ad Litem for the Ute Indian Tribe and staff advocate at Utah Legal Services.

Kristi Williams joined Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP in September of 2015, opening the firm’s Alaska office. Having served as legislative and policy advisor in the U.S. Senate and at the Department of Interior, Williams is well informed on Alaska Native and American Indian issues. She has expertise in government-to-government consultation, small business and economic development issues, strategic planning, negotiations, as well as legislative and appropriations advocacy.

Chad Yazzie has completed an LL.M program in Switzerland. His thesis was titled, “International Tribal Finance: A Domestic Assessment of Tribal Finance and a Proposal for Globalized Bond Financing.” In early 2012, he was working in renewable energy practice with the Reznick Group, based in Washington, D.C., but was planning to move to New York City in March. His Switzerland experienced was highlighted in Chad Yazzie: Immersed in Global Business Law, an article on the UNM School of Law website.


Jasmine McGee was named executive director of The Immigration Project. She has practiced as an immigration attorney with the Immigration Project since 2011 where she began by managing the agency’s rapidly growing family-based waiver case load. The agency provides direct legal services to immigrants in central and southern Illinois. Due to her previous non-profit experience, working with indigenous peoples in South America, she was drawn to U.S. immigration law in her second year of law school, where she took a practicum course on removal defense.


Lindsay Ruska Drennan has become an associate in the Albuquerque firm of Allen, Shepherd, Lewis & Syra.

Julia Maccini has become an associate at Keleher & McLeod, where she focuses her practice on civil and commercial litigation.

Nicholas Pino has become an associate at Keleher & McLeod, where he focuses his practice on civil and commercial litigation.

Reid Pierce has completed his MBA in France; and has accepted a position as Manager of Legal Affairs for a tech startup in Kathmandu.


Kelly Davis accepted a judicial clerkship with Chief Justice Michael Druse of the High Court of American Samoa for the 2013-2014 term.

Summer Huff has been selected as a Presidential Management Fellow. The Presidential Management Fellows program is a pathway created three decades ago, by an Executive Order, to cultivate leadership and develop potential government leaders.

Alicia M. LaPado was hired as an associate by Business Law Southwest LLC. She practices business litigation, general civil litigation, and criminal defense. Prior to becoming an associate, LaPado worked at the firm as a legal assistant, office manager, and law clerk.

Christina M. Looney joined the litigation group at Sutin Thayer and Browne in August 2013. She practices primarily in the areas of education law, employment law, commercial litigation and family law, which encompasses divorce, child custody and time sharing, child support, alimony, and the valuation and division of complex assets (professional practices, businesses) in the divorce context.

Zoë E. Lees was named as one of the new co-chair of the State Bar of New Mexico Committee on Women and the Legal Profession. She will serve through Dec. 31, 2015. She practices with the Modrall Sperling law firm in energy, utilities, environmental and employment law. Lees served as co-editor in Chief of the Natural Resources Journal while attending UNM Law School. She also received the Albert. E Utton Natural Resources Award and Dean’s Award.

Keith C. Mier joined the New Mexico State Bar Commission on Professionalism in 2015. His duties include contributing to and directing programs aimed at maintaining high standards of lawyer conduct. He is a member of the Sutin, Thayer and Browne Lawyers litigation group. Mier practices in employment law, commercial litigation, healthcare, corrections litigation, Indian law, education law and creditor rights.

Catherine Russell joined SaucedoChavez P.C. law firm in Albuquerque in April 2014. She specializes in insurance defense and regulatory matters, healthcare law, complex commercial litigation, and government affairs/lobbying. Russell was president of the Women’s Law Caucus and secretary of the Business Law Society. She was also a citations editor of the Natural Resources Journal and participated in the 2013 National Health Law Moot Court. She received this year’s Frederick M. Hart prize recognizing excellence in commercial law.

Amanda L. Thatcher joined Lewis Roca Rothgerber in Phoenix, Arizona, as an associate in September 2014. She practices in the firm’s litigation practice group. After graduation, Thatcher was a law clerk for the Honorable Patricia K. Norris at the Arizona Court of Appeals. During law school, she served as an extern for the Honorable Jonathan B. Sutin at the New Mexico Court of Appeals and was the manuscript editor for the New Mexico Law Review. Thatcher graduated Order of the Coif and was presented with the Corporate and Business Law Excellence Award and Honors in Clinical Law Award in 2013 as well as CALI awards (highest grade) throughout law school in Civil Procedure I, Property I, Secured Transactions, and Introduction to Natural Resources. For more information, go to or


Ed Merta accepted a position with the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department in the Air Quality Program as Air Quality Regulation Development Coordinator, effective October 6, 2014. He is the lead writer of air pollution regulations for the city, helping to implement authority delegated to local agencies under the Federal Clean Air Act and the New Mexico Air Quality Control Act. Last summer, he worked on climate and energy issues for Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit promoting sustainable energy, land, and water policy and law in the interior West. Merta also worked for two years as a graduate student national security policy analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Tracy L. Canard Goodluck was featured on the front page of Indian Country Today on June 16, 2015 in the article, “Meet Indian Country’s Latest DC Insider, Presidential Management Fellow.” It says Goodluck “has a passion for Indian education, particularly reform, and she has dedicated her career to improving the outcomes of students in tribal communities.”