Celebrating 60 years at UNM School of Law

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In June 1950, the first class graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law, its 27 graduates spreading across the state and establishing a tradition of service to New Mexico that remains strong today. Through the next 60 years, UNM law graduates have represented their communities in the state Legislature, ascended to the top levels of the state judiciary and led the state’s most prestigious law firms.
To celebrate the many achievements and accomplishments of the UNM School of Law’s proud graduates, the School of Law has produced 60 for 60, a book highlighting 60 people, programs and events that have shaped New Mexico and the country since 1950. This first-of-its-kind book for the law school can be purchased from our website, http://lawschool.unm.edu, by clicking on the 60 for 60 icon.
Our first graduating class included many veterans of World War II.  Perhaps because of their military service, they helped to establish public service as a key value at the School of Law.  Some stayed in Albuquerque, such as Richard Civerolo, who had served in the U.S. Army under General George Patton. Other graduates included Al Lebeck of Gallup, who served in the state Legislature and Lavor Burnham, who became city attorney in Farmington. David Douglas became the district attorney in the Seventh Judicial District, serving Catron and Socorro counties and George Zimmerman and Richard Parsons served as judges in the 12th Judicial District, which encompasses Lincoln and Otero counties. Now, most of the communities of our state have long traditions of UNM alums in practice. Some of them are second-or third-generation graduates of UNM.
As the only law school in New Mexico, our mission has always been a challenging one: to develop competent and ethical lawyers who reflect the unique diversity of our great state and to build leaders who can meet ever greater challenges. Our faculty has embraced that challenge robustly.
We have pioneered clinical legal education, which focuses on providing hands-on experience through which students gain the practical skills to hit the ground running after graduation. A 2007 Carnegie Foundation report showcasing best practices in legal education said that all law schools should operate more like medical schools, that is, students should actually practice their profession under the tutelage of an expert before graduating. It highlighted the UNM School of Law, where we have been teaching in that manner for 40 years through our clinical law program.
We have also pioneered the study of natural resources. Our Natural Resources Journal, the first interdisciplinary legal journal in the country, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Among many other milestones is that we produced the first Latina Supreme Court chief justice, and attorney general of any state in the country. I joined the faculty as dean in 2009 and am proud to be a member of this special UNM law school community. Given all the impressive accomplishments from the school’s first 60 years that are highlighted in the lively 60 for 60 book, I am already looking forward to hearing about the contributions of the next generation of UNM-produced lawyers.

Kevin Washburn, dean
UNM School of Law