President Obama nominated UNM law professor Gloria Valencia-Weber to a national board that helps impoverished people get legal services.
The United States Senate chooses five members and the president chooses six members of the 11-member Legal Services Board. The board visits legal service offices across the country to assist with the development of better techniques to provide legal help.
“I feel really honored to be selected by Obama for this appointment,” Valencia-Weber said. “The only other academic person who teaches in a law school was the dean of Harvard Law School. I feel fortunate in the company that I have been placed.”
In a statement issued to UNM Today, New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman said Valencia-Weber deserved the appointment.
“Gloria Valencia-Weber has had an extremely distinguished career at the UNM School of Law,” he said. “She brings an expertise to the Legal Services Board that will benefit the entire country.”
Before joining the UNM law program, Valencia-Weber was on the Board of Indian Legal Services in Oklahoma and helped create the Indian law certificate program.
Since coming to UNM law school in 1992, Valencia-Weber has been a driving force in increasing the number of Indian law courses offered at UNM. It’s no coincidence that the Indian Law Program, which has been integrated into the law-school curriculum, is one of the best in the country, Valencia-Weber said.
“The on-the-ground knowledge of how legal services are delivered to Native Americans is different from urban areas where people just get on the subway to get to their legal services office,” she said.
The Legal Service Corporation, a nonprofit corporation, was founded in 1974. It’s one of the largest legal aide suppliers for impoverished Americans. The corporation’s $342 million budget funds 137 payees and organizes 918 legal offices across the country, according to its website.
Valencia-Weber said she will do her part to make LSC efforts’ more visible.
“There are increasing numbers of poor people in this country,” she said. “More of them lose their jobs, houses and a whole set of important family life qualities, and including in some cases, people in danger of losing their children.”