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	In his office in Scholes Hall on Wednesday, Patrick Apodaca discusses his time as University counsel at UNM. Apodaca is leaving UNM for a senior legal and executive position at PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider.

In his office in Scholes Hall on Wednesday, Patrick Apodaca discusses his time as University counsel at UNM. Apodaca is leaving UNM for a senior legal and executive position at PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider.

Chief legal officer leaves University for PNM post

Patrick Apodaca, University counsel, is leaving UNM for a senior legal and executive position at PNM, New Mexico’s largest electricity provider.

Apodaca, a Harvard graduate, served as an associate counsel for President Carter from 1977 to 1981 and served as University counsel since 2006.

Apodaca said he expected to work at UNM until his retirement, but then he got an offer from PNM.

“I had every plan to stay at UNM as University counsel,” he said. “The reason I accepted the PNM job is because it really is a tremendous career advancement opportunity. I am, in addition to being the general counsel, a senior vice president, which means a senior executive of the company. A handful of senior executives run the company.”

Apodaca serves as chief legal officer to the University. UNM President David Schmidly told UNM Today that Apodaca assisted the University in legal dimensions on a wide variety of issues.

“A large public research university with a health sciences component is truly a complex enterprise, and our attorneys are called upon to assist in a wide range of issues and transactions,” Schmidly said. “Patrick has built an office with great expertise in a remarkable range of disciplines.”

Apodaca said the national search to replace PNM’s counsel Patrick Ortiz began in June. Apodaca said he tossed his name in for consideration when the search began, and his decision to leave has nothing to do with UNM.

“The timing of my departure has nothing to do with the University. It has everything to do with PNM resources,” he said.

Apodaca will take the PNM position the first week in January and will be replaced with an interim University counsel, Lee Peifer, who serves as the deputy University counsel.

Apodaca said the process for hiring a University counsel will probably require a national search and could take more than two months.

Apodaca said his job description will change drastically at PNM, and he will have a smaller set of duties.

“It’s narrower because the amazing thing about this job is that I’m the chief legal adviser to a very large and complex organization,” he said. “It’s really an extremely diverse set of operations.”

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Jeff Sterba, chairman and CEO of PNM, said in a Nov. 18 news release that the company will benefit from Apodaca’s expertise.

“We are extremely pleased that Patrick is joining our company,” Sterba said. “He brings extensive and relevant experience and expertise in both the state and federal arenas.”

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