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Professor William T. MacPherson Jr.

William MacPherson

Emeritus Professor of Law
B.A. 1963, J.D. 1966, University of New Mexico
Member of the Arizona and New Mexico Bars

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-6559
 Office: 3407


William MacPherson joined the UNM law faculty in 1970 to establish a clinical law program, at the time a new concept for legal education. During the next 14 years, he built an innovative program that offered students practical experience prior to graduation. By the time he stepped down, the clinic was a required part of the Law School's legal education and one of the top clinical programs in the country.

While continuing to teach in the clinic in the mid-1980s, MacPherson also wrote a DWI Prosecution Manual and a DWI Trial Notebook. Throughout his career, he has spent time as a visiting professor at the University of Philippines School of Law, at the University of Guanajuato and the University of Guadalajara. He also has presented lectures at the University of Granada in Spain and the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.

His interest in Mexico led him to establish the UNM Law School's Guanajuato Summer Law Institute in 1989 which he continues to direct. MacPherson, who is fluent in Spanish, focuses his research interests on Latin America, in particular, on the role of the lawyer in Mexico. In that area, he has collaborated on a number of publications with Mexican law professors. In 2002, he co-taught the concept of clinical education to a group of law professors from Colombia.

MacPherson remains involved in the clinic, teaching a course every semester, bringing to the program his enthusiasm and experience.

Introduction to Mexican Law

This seminar will discuss the structure of the Mexican legal system, law and legal profession. The focus of the seminar will cover those legal topics of interest to a no¬Mexican person interested in doing business in Mexico, such as contracts, commercial sales, security instruments, real estate transactions, business entities, labor law and tax law. If time permits we will briefly examine the criminal system of Mexico. Appropriate Mexican legal terminology will be discussed as it relates to the various legal topics. If there is sufficient interest a field trip to Juarez and Chihuahua will be arranged to meet with legal educators, law firms and judges. Final grades will be determined by examination or paper. The course may be used to meet the writing requirement.

Mexican Criminal Law

Course Description

Objective of the course:

With the growing interdependence of the United States of America and United States of Mexico it is important that the practitioner and future lawyers have a basic understanding of the criminal process in Mexico and how it compares with the USA process. At this moment Mexican criminal procedure is in the process of changing and is thought by many scholars to be the most profound change in the concept of justice to occur in Mexico since the enactment of the 1917 Constitution. For this reason it is appropriate at this time to compare and discuss the two criminal processes.

The course is designed to assist the practitioner or future lawyer to be prepared to advise a client as to the basic nature of Mexican criminal procedure and the justice system and:

  1. Assist in the preparation of a defense
  2. Evaluate the advice and strategy of local Mexican counsel
  3. Assist clients in avoiding potential pitfalls when doing business in or living in Mexico
  4. Assist in selection of counsel
  5. Provide general advice in Mexican criminal matters

For prosecutors the course offers an overview of institutional settings, who is who in the Mexican criminal justice system, how to secure cooperation in investigations and the basics of foreign prosecutions as versus extradition. We will also consider the available options in securing the return of U.S. Citizens charged with a crime, prisoner exchange and the like.

In order to prepare lawyers and students to meet the above objectives the following areas will be the principal focus of the course:

  1. Historical development of the two criminal systems and the major historical differences.
  2. The definitions of criminal conduct in Mexico and the USA.
  3. The concepts of guilt and innocence in Mexico with a comparison to the USA concept.
  4. Defenses in criminal prosecution in Mexico.
  5. Theories of punishment and sentencing in Mexico with a comparison to USA sentencing.
  6. An examination of the criminal process in Mexico with a comparison to the USA criminal process.
  7. The function of amparo in the Mexican criminal process.
  8. The future impact of oral trials in Mexico.
  9. The Mexican State criminal process and the Mexican Federal criminal process.
  10. Extradition and the return of USA citizens accused of crimes from Mexico and the extradition and return of Mexican citizens accused of crimes the USA.
  11. Article four prosecutions in Mexico.
  12. Prisoner exchange.
  13. Parental kidnapping and the Mexican law.
  14. Firearms crimes in Mexico.
  15. The International Criminal Court and its relation to Mexican Criminal law.

This course will stress the practical use of the information presented. It will be taught by Profs. William MacPherson and Tim Cornish. Subject to available funds and scheduling, local speakers, Mexican law professors and Mexican lawyers who are experts in the various topics will also participate in class presentations and discussions.

If you would have questions or would like to discuss this interesting and timely course, please contact Prof. MacPherson.

Mexican Externship Program

Externships will be offered to twenty students participating in the four-week course component. These two-week externships allow students to observe the practice of law in Mexico under direct supervision of a Mexican judge, attorney or notary. Externs receive two credits.

Overview of Mexican Business Law

Course Description

This course discusses NAFTA, the structure of the Mexican legal system, law, and legal profession. This is a comparative study of the Mexican legal systems presented in the context of Mexican legal history, language, and culture. Some Spanish legal terminology is discussed to study the differences between Mexican and American law. Mexican law of interest to non-Mexican persons investing or doing business in Mexico, such as contract, corporate, labor law, and tax law will be discussed.

Real Estate Transactions

Course Description

This course will provide you with the practical knowledge and skills to plan, document and close a real estate transaction. We will examine the law and documents involved in a typical real estate transaction, including mortgage financing. New Mexico statutory and case law will be reviewed for substantive rules that apply to real estate transactions and for drafting issues and solutions. We will also discuss collateral documents of real estate transactions, such as title insurance and surveys. Students will be required to draft basic documents of a real estate transaction, such as real estate contracts and mortgages, based on fact situations that raise typical drafting issues.


DWI Trial Notebook (Univ. N.M. Inst. of Pub. Law 1986).

Prosecutor's Manual for DWI Cases (Univ. N.M. Inst. of Pub. Law 1985).

The Law Says: A Manual For Teenagers (Univ. N.M. Sch. of Law 1973).

Reporter, Rules of Criminal Procedure For New Mexico (1972).

Court Systems of the Recognized Indian Tribes of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, in Report on the Criminal Justice Systems of Indian Tribes and Pueblos of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah (1971).

Editor, [Navajo] Nation Code (Equity 1969).


El Papel Del Abogado En Mexico, Escuela Libre (1990) (co-authored with E. Ursua-Cocke).

Habeus Corpus in New Mexico, 11 N.M. L. Rev. 291 (1980) (co-authored with T. Donnely).

Integrating Classroom and Clinical Methods in Legal Education: Discussion and Case Example, in Experience Learning (Eugene T. Byrne ed., 1978).