Marty Esquivel was in high school when the quandary began: whether to be a journalist or a lawyer. He had answered phones at the New Mexican, the daily newspaper in his hometown of Santa Fe and worked as a courier at Montgomery & Andrews.
"I remember walking into the lawyers' offices and was so impressed by the diplomas on their walls," he says. "But writing was my first passion."
Ultimately, he has combined both as a shareholder at the Narvaez Law Firm, maintaining a civil litigation practice with an emphasis on First Amendment Law.
During his undergraduate years at the University of New Mexico, where he was elected student body president and majored in journalism, Esquivel was a weekend sports writer for the Albuquerque Journal, covering high school sports. As much as he loved the job, in the back of his mind, he knew he wanted to have a family and that someday he would care for his mother. He also knew how difficult that would be given the long and atypical hours of a sportswriter.
Opting for law school, it took one semester to shatter his dreams.
"Before the grades were back from exams after the first semester, I was sending my resumé to all the major newspapers, convinced I had failed," he says. Although he passed comfortably, he accepted an offer from the Los Angeles Times for a summer internship as a sportswriter. He did so well, the paper offered him a two-year externship with a promise that afterward he would have a job with one of the company's newspapers.
He agonized, sought the advice of Associate Dean Peter Winograd, and then decided to return to law school, earning his J.D. in 1986.
"It was the best decision," he says. "He married his high-school sweetheart, Pauline Lucero Esquivel and they now have three children: Graciela, 15; Marisa, 13 and Carlos Jay, 7. He took care of his mother, who lived with them for three years before she died.
Esquivel's first job after law school was with Montgomery & Andrews. Esquivel's first job after law school was with Montgomery & Andrews. In 1993, he joined Dines, Wilson & Gross, which became Dines, Gross & Esquivel. It was during the 1990s that he developed an expertise in First Amendment Law. He has represented newspapers and television stations in matters ranging from defamation to rights to public records, taught media law at the UNM Communications and Journalism Department and served on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) since 1993, including being president for two years.
In 2003, he joined the Narvaez Law Firm.
"It's been exciting to combine my genuine interest in journalism, the First Amendment and the law," he says.
In 2007, he was elected to the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and now serves as the board's president.
"As an outsider, I was frustrated with APS; the graduation rates were unacceptably low," he says. "We now have set measurable, identifiable achievement goals for the superintendent, and I plan to keep the pressure on him to meet them.
"With three children in each level of school in the district, it's nice to have a voice that is heard and respected," he says.
In 2006, Esquivel received FOG's William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award for his legal contributions to maintaining open government in New Mexico.
"This organization does tremendous work and has made a difference in how government works in New Mexico," he says.
At the UNM School of Law, Esquivel was known as the person in his graduating class most likely to be a politician. He still holds that goal, with an eye on the office of attorney general — some day.
Q: What was our favorite class in law school?
A: First Amendment Rights, taught by Bill Dixon.
Q: What was your least favorite class?
A: Civil procedure.
Q: Who was your favorite professor?
A: Michael Browde
Q: If you weren't a lawyer, what would be your dream profession?
A: A writer for Sports Illustrated.
Q: What's the last book you read?
A: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Q: What law would you like to see thrown out?
A: Red-light cameras.