Professor Martin Receives Hart Chair in Consumer, Clinical Law
October 28, 2011
Professor Nathalie Martin was presented with the inaugural Frederick M. Hart Chair in Consumer & Clinical Law during a well-attended late-October reception. The chair is the first of its kind in the country.
An agreement for the new chair was started when a nearly $1.4 million cy pres award was presented to the UNM School of Law in 2009, the result of a class action settlement from a case involving the cost of term life insurance. The chair was fully endowed this past year.
David Freedman (`73) presented Martin with a plaque on behalf of the plaintiff’s attorneys in the case. In addition to Freedman, attorneys Robert Hanson, Alan Konrad, Dennis McCary and Floyd Wilson contributed to the case and the outcome. The award represented a remarkable coming-together of these alumni and non-alumni attorneys alike, plaintiff Lisa Enfield (`87), plantiff’s attorneys and defense attorney Andy Schultz (`84). The cy pres order was approved by Judge Linda Vanzi (`95) during her final day as a district court judge.
“The class action lawyers…felt that it was important to perpetuate the goals of this class action – to protect consumers by providing a vehicle for law students and faculty to address the needs of consumers that often go un-redressed,” said Freedman.
The parties chose to honor former Dean Hart for his many contributions to consumer and clinical law.
Martin has worked closely with Hart since joining the faculty in 1998 and they often co-teach courses. She has gained a national reputation in the fields of bankruptcy, consumer and elder law and regularly teaches in the law school’s clinical programs. She also runs a program promoting financial literacy in New Mexico high schools, and teaches a two-day financial literacy course for law students and undergraduates.
“We think this is the very first endowed chair in the entire country to be dedicated to consumer law issues,” said Martin. “The timing is right to prioritize consumer law, given that it is a rough world for consumers right now. This chair shows that as a law school we want to be poised to help consumers by helping students to serve clients in this area.”
Former Dean Hart, surrounded by his colleagues, friends and many family members, shared thoughts on the importance of this chair in moving the law school forward, gave credit to many other colleagues who worked in these areas within the law school through the years, and touchingly credited his wife, Joan, for any success or honor bestowed on him.