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NREEL Lawyer of the Year

Please email your nominations to Member Services at by Friday, Nov. 15.

An Award Committee comprised of members of the NREEL Board of Directors shall review all written nominations to select a candidate who promotes the stated purposes of the NREEL Section: to provide Section members, the State Bar, and the public with information and dialogue concerning issues affecting natural resources, energy and the environment, and to share ideas, legal research, and networking with the goal of providing the highest possible quality of legal services to New Mexicans in the areas of natural resources, energy, and environmental law. In addition to promoting the purposes of the NREEL Section, the successful nominee should demonstrate:


1. Professionalism and integrity by:

a. Promoting the honor, dignity, and professionalism of lawyers;

b. Promoting ethical conduct and collegiality within the practice; and

c. Being held in high regard in the profession.

2. Superior legal service by, for example:

a. Demonstrating superior knowledge of the substantive legal area in which he or she

practices; and/or

b. Providing excellent legal representation to clients.

3. Exemplary service by, for example:

a. Making significant contributions to natural resources, energy, or environmental law generally in the State of New Mexico;

b. Expanding the resources of natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers and law

students by providing educational, networking, or mentoring opportunities;

c. Serving in leadership posts or on special projects and committees related to natural resources, energy, or environmental law;

d. Assisting natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers and law students by evaluating jurisprudence, legislation, and regulations;

e. Advancing the knowledge, skills, and interests of natural resources, energy, and environmental lawyers and law students; and/or

f. Demonstrating innovative thinking or leadership skills related to natural resources, energy, or environmental law.

4. Service to the public in the areas of natural resources, energy, or environmental law by, for example:

a. Supporting the public interest in a fair and effective system of justice; and/or

b. Demonstrating outstanding community or pro bono contributions.

Past Recipients

  2018 Recipient Stuart Butzier
Stuart Butzier has assisted mining, energy, high-tech, industrial and ranching clients throughout his thirty year legal career with Modrall Sperling. His counsel has included helping clients strategically navigate the maze of environmental and mining regulatory and permitting regimes, the morass of litigation, and the unique challenges of complex deals and real property transactions involving private, Federal, State, Indian and split-estate lands.
2017 Recipient Amy I. Haas
Amy I. Haas is the Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel for the Upper Colorado River Commission where she represents the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming on Colorado River matters.  A 2000 graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, Ms. Haas has focused her practice on water law, beginning her legal career in private law firms and joining the state of New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission in 2005 as the Rio Grande Bureau staff attorney.  In 2009, Ms. Haas became General Counsel of the Interstate Stream Commission, representing the state’s interests in 8 interstate stream compacts, as well as advising the 9-member Commission, its Director and bureau chiefs on all legal matters.  She served in that capacity until May of 2017.  While at the Interstate Stream Commission, Ms. Haas became Acting Director while also fulfilling the role of General Counsel for a six-month period spanning 2014 and 2015.  From 2015 to 2017, Ms. Haas served as New Mexico’s Upper Colorado River Commissioner and its Colorado River Basin States Principal.

2017 NREEL Section Chair Deana Bennett, Greg Ridgley, and 2016 NREEL Section Chair Sally Paez

2016 Recipient Gregory C. Ridgley

Ridgley was selected for for his display of professionalism and integrity, superior legal service and because he is a life-long public servant. Ridgley is held in high regard by water law practitioners throughout the West and is a master of the nuanced area of Western water law. He is able to maintain a high degree of integrity and professionalism in a position that can be extremely difficult and unfathomably demanding.

2015 Recipient Greg J. Nibert

Nibert was selected for the award because of his service to oil and gas law, his devotion to NREEL and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, and his outstanding professionalism in the practice of law. His highly successful career has focused on oil and gas transactions, in addition to oil and gas regulation. The New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization recognizes him as a specialist in oil and gas law. Read more.
 2014 NREEL Chair Kim Bannerman and Walter Stern  2014 Recipient Walter Stern
Stern, past Chair of the NREEL Section, was selected based on his career including practice in public lands law; environmental law, including work with the National Environmental Policy Act; historic and cultural resources issues; Indian law; water law; oil and gas; and mining. He is a recognized expert on historic and cultural resources and co-authored the American Bar Association's book, as well as numerous papers on the subject. Read more.

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