Research Professor of Law,
Director, International Law Programs
B.A. Magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa 1980, Colorado College
Thomas J. Watson Fellow, Spain, Andorra, and France, 1980-81
J.D. 1992, University of California at Los Angeles
Member of the New Mexico Bar
Daniel Ortega joined the UNM law faculty in 2003 as Research Professor of Law.
Ortega’s longstanding interest in international affairs stems from study-abroad experiences in Mexico and Costa Rica, and his Watson Fellowship in Western Europe. He began his fellowship by studying Catalan at the University of Barcelona. Catalan is a romance language spoken by approximately ten million people in Spain, Andorra, France, and the Sardinian city of Alghero (Italy). Ortega focused on the Catalonia region of Spain to observe the re-assertion of the Catalan language and culture during that country’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. He speaks fluent Spanish and remains conversant in Catalan.
Directly after law school, Ortega practiced federal Indian law and represented tribal governments from across the United States. His practice ranged from litigation and economic development projects to drafting resolutions, legislation, regulations, and policies. He also prepared appellate opinions for a tribal court, and was counsel to a tribal department of labor in the enforcement of its Indian-preference legislation.
During President Bill Clinton’s second term, Ortega was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He was posted at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid as Special Assistant to Edward Romero, former Ambassador to Spain and Andorra. Ortega worked to strengthen U.S. academic, cultural, and trade links with Spain and Andorra, served as liaison between the Ambassador’s office and all Embassy departments, and wrote speeches for the Ambassador. He also directed the Ambassador’s numerous initiatives aimed at reviving New Mexico’s historic relationship with Spain. Notable achievements in this regard include two long-term institutional links that were established in October 2000: the Prince of Asturias Endowed Chair in Information Science and Technology at UNM, and a branch of Spain’s Cervantes Institute at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
In May 2001, the Spanish Government awarded Ortega the Encomienda de la Orden de Isabel la Católica in recognition of his many contributions in support of friendly and cooperative diplomatic relations between Spain and the United States.
He was appointed president of the board of directors of the National Hispanic Cultural Center by Governor Bill Richardson.