The U.S. Senate has confirmed the appointment of University of New Mexico Law Professor Gloria Valencia-Weber to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation (LCS). President Barack Obama nominated Valencia-Weber to the national policy-setting board, along with three others.
Valencia-Weber is the first board member in recent memory to contribute an expertise in Indian law. Prior to her 1992 appointment to the law faculty at UNM, where she created the Indian law certificate program, she served on the board of Oklahoma Indian Legal Services.
"Gloria Valencia-Weber has had an extremely distinguished career at the UNM School of Law. She brings an expertise to the Legal Services Board that will benefit the entire country," said U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman. "I send my congratulations to her on this important appointment."
The LSC was signed into law in 1974 and is the nation's single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor. With a budget of $342 million, the nonprofit corporation distributes funds to 137 grantees, which operate 918 legal services offices across the country. From the beginning, the budget included a commitment specifically to Native Americans, and with her deep knowledge of Indian law and tribal customs, Valencia-Weber already has provided valuable insight to her fellow board members.
As a member of the bipartisan 11-member board, Valencia-Weber regularly visits legal services offices across the country, to hear about their needs and see different models being used for providing legal services. During these field visits, board members also meet with other legal services organizations to gain a greater understanding of the overall accessibility of legal representation for poor people.
"I feel highly honored to be on the board," said Valencia-Weber. "I look forward to learning new things to further the goals of the LSC."
"Gloria Valencia-Weber is a distinguished legal scholar and teacher of law whose own research and expertise will be extremely helpful to the work of the Board of the Legal Services Corporation," said John G. Levi, chairman of the LSC Board of Directors. "We are so fortunate to be gaining her wise counsel, particularly in these difficult economic times when so many millions of low-income Americans are seeking civil legal assistance to deal with the myriad problems they are facing with their most basic human needs. We are delighted to welcome Gloria to the corporation's board of directors as it works to ensure equal access to justice for all Americans."
With a mandate from President Obama to strengthen the LSC and its commitment to providing legal services, the board already has been charged with ensuring that military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan receive civil legal representation for issues that arise after they return home.
"Professor Valencia-Weber has long been a leader in the Indian law field, and her appointment highlights the UNM School of Law's longstanding commitment to public service," said Dean Kevin Washburn.
October 7, 2010