State Bar Announces 2010 Award Winners
Albuquerque, N.M.— The State Bar of New Mexico will honor its best and brightest at a special reception to be held during its annual meeting July 16 at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero. Each year the State Bar recognizes those who have distinguished themselves or who have made exemplary contributions to the State Bar, the legal profession, and the citizens of New Mexico.
Justice Pamela B. Minzner Professionalism Award—Recipient Raymond Hamilton
This award recognizes one or more attorneys or judges who, over long and distinguished legal careers, have by their ethical and personal conduct exemplified for their fellow attorneys the epitome of professionalism. Justice Minzner (1943–2007), known for her fervent and unyielding commitment to professionalism, served on the New Mexico Supreme Court from 1994 to 2007.
Raymond Hamilton grew up in Hobbs and received his BA at UNM in 1972 and his law degree in 1975 from Harvard Law School. After working as an assistant New Mexico attorney general, he joined the New Mexico Public Defender Department where he tried more than 30 felony cases. He was in private practice until he joined the United States Attorney’s Office where he served as civil chief from 1994 to 2001. Hamilton taught at the UNM School of Law for several years as an adjunct professor and has instructed frequently on trial advocacy. His service to the profession includes chairing and serving 11 years on the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners and eight years as a member of the Board of Bar Commissioners. He is a past Disciplinary Board member and a former board member of the Albuquerque Legal Aid Society. He helped found the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association in 1982 and has been elected president several times.
Justice Seth D. Montgomery Distinguished Judicial Service Award—Recipient The Honorable James A. Hall
This award recognizes judges who have distinguished themselves through long and exemplary service on the bench and who have significantly advanced the administration of justice. It is generally given to judges who have or soon will be retiring. Justice Montgomery (1937–1998), a brilliant and widely respected attorney and jurist, served on the New Mexico Supreme Court from 1989 to 1994.
The Honorable James A. Hall served as a district court judge in Santa Fe from 1995 until 2009. During his tenure on the bench, he handled cases in the Civil Division, Criminal Division and Family Court. He was twice elected by his colleagues to serve as chief judge of the First Judicial District, serving from 2001–2008. Judge Hall has been a member of the Judicial Standards Commission and the Budget Committee of the State Judiciary. In 2007, he was named an Outstanding Trial Judge by the New Mexico Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is a graduate of DePauw University and the University of Michigan Law School. Following his retirement from the bench, Judge Hall opened a mediation and arbitration practice in Santa Fe and was recently appointed to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. He happily shares office space with his wife Kathy.
Robert H. LaFollette Pro Bono Award—Recipient Ron Holmes
This award is presented to an attorney who has made an exemplary contribution of time and effort, without compensation, to provide legal assistance to people who could not afford the assistance of an attorney. Robert LaFollette (1900–1977), director of Legal Aid to the Poor, was a champion of the underprivileged who, through countless volunteer hours and personal generosity and sacrifice, was the consummate humanitarian and philanthropist.
Ron Holmes is a sole practitioner in Albuquerque, practicing statewide in the areas of bankruptcy and general civil litigation. He is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Alamogordo. Holmes received his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of New Mexico and has practiced law in Albuquerque since his admission to the bar in 1996. A REALTOR® since 2001, he currently serves as the qualifying broker for Stetson Realty and teaches classes on bankruptcy for the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors. Holmes has been the chair and secretary of the board of directors for the Bankruptcy Law Section and continues to serve on the board. He is the current chair-elect for the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Albuquerque Chapter. Holmes considers his greatest accomplishment is being a devoted husband/family man to his wife and four wonderful kids.
Distinguished Bar Service Award–Lawyer—Recipient Dennis E. Jontz
This award recognizes attorneys who have provided valuable service and contributions to the legal profession over a significant period of time.
Dennis E. Jontz, a partner of Lewis and Roca LLP, practices in the areas of business, real estate, intellectual property, government contracts, and civil and commercial litigation. He earned a B.A., M.B.A. and J.D. from Drake University. He was a U.S. Air Force judge advocate (active and reserve) from 1974–1998. Jontz was on the State Bar Board of Bar Commissioners for nine years, served as president in 2007, and currently chairs the Commission on Judicial Advancement. He is general counsel to the boards of the Better Business Bureau and the Kirtland Partnership Committee. In addition, he serves on the boards of Albuquerque Economic Development, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation, Explora, Economic Forum, and Oso Grande Technologies. He was selected as a New Mexico Power Broker, 2004–2009 and was named in New Mexico Business Weekly’s 2010 Best of the Bar. In addition, he is listed in Southwest Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers. He has been a member of the Albuquerque Rotary Club since 1984.
Distinguished Bar Service Award—Non-Lawyer—Recipient Robin Gomez
This award recognizes non-lawyers who have provided valuable service and contributions to the legal profession over a significant period of time.
Robin Gomez, with 35 years’ experience in the legal arena, has served in numerous leadership positions within the Paralegal Division and other State Bar committees over the last 14 years. She is a strong advocate for volunteerism and serves as a volunteer, trainer and mentor in the legal community. She was a member the Board of Bar Commissioners in 2008, volunteers for Bernalillo County’s Local Access to Justice programs, is on the Paralegal Advisory Committee for Central New Mexico Community College, and currently serves as president of the New Mexico Association of Legal Administrators. The office manager of Lewis and Roca LLP’s Albuquerque office, Gomez will receive her bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix in August.
Outstanding Legal Program Award—Recipient University of New Mexico School of Law
Clinical Law Programs
This award recognizes groups within the State Bar, local and voluntary bars across the state, and outstanding or extraordinary law-related programs that serve the legal profession and the public.
The University of New Mexico has been a national leader in clinical education since the clinical program’s inception in 1971. All UNM graduates must complete six credit hours of clinical study wherein they represent underserved clients and communities while working under the close supervision of tenured and tenure track professors. Modern facilities provide students with dedicated work space and access to the latest technology and equipment. Based on the program’s effectiveness in preparing students in the fundamental skills and professional values necessary for success in the practice of law, the Carnegie Foundation, in its 2008 Report on Educating Lawyers, exhorted all law schools to adopt clinical programs like those at UNM. The program is also consistently highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Through the leadership of Fred Hart and clinical directors Bill MacPherson, Jose Martinez, Mike Norwood, and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, UNM’s Clinical Law Program has had an important impact on New Mexico and legal education nationally.
Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award—Recipient Christina Vigil
This award recognizes one or more attorneys who have, during the formative stages of their legal careers by their ethical and personal conduct, exemplified for their fellow attorneys the epitome of professionalism. The recipient has demonstrated commitment to his or her clients’ causes and to public service, enhancing the image of the legal profession in the eyes of the public. The recipient must have practiced no more than five years or must be no more than 36 years of age.
Christina Vigil serves as a regional president for the Hispanic National Bar Association and as president of the N.M. Hispanic Bar Association. While chairperson of the NMHBA Mentorship/Education Committee, she helped create a mentorship program for high school students and hosted the HNBA’s Youth Symposium. She serves on the UNM School of Law Pipeline Committee and the Latino Education Task Force and previously served as the executive director of the N.M. Women’s Justice Project. Vigil graduated from UNM with degrees in psychology and Spanish and obtained her Juris Doctorate from the UNM School of Law. She owns and operates a law office in Albuquerque, concentrating her practice in employment law, including administrative discrimination claims, state and federal personnel issues, and litigation in federal and state district court. She also handles personal injury, wrongful death, and civil and constitutional rights cases. In her free-time she enjoys spending time with her 10-year-old son Elijah and husband Lugene.
More information about the State Bar Annual Meeting may be found at https://www.nmbar.org/Attorneys/AM/AM10.html.
The State Bar of New Mexico was organized in 1886 and is composed of more than 8500 members. Its purposes are to aid the courts in administering justice and preserving the rule of law, and to foster a high standard of integrity and competence within the legal profession.