Member Spotlight

New Mexico State Bar Foundation

Dec 21, 2023

New Mexico State Bar Foundation

The December 2023/January 2024 Member Spotlight shines on the New Mexico State Bar Foundation.

Their Mission:

The New Mexico State Bar Foundation advances the legal community’s commitment to serve the legal profession and people of New Mexico. Through member donations, fundraising and programs, the Foundation provides and promotes access to legal services to underserved New Mexicans. The Foundation also supports public service, education, and diversity, as well as organizations consistent with this mission.

About the Organization:

The New Mexico State Bar Foundation is the public service and educational arm of the State Bar of New Mexico.  The Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1991. The goals of the Foundation are to:

For our Community:

  • enhance access to legal services to underserved populations
  • provide FREE legal advice and information to thousands of New Mexico residents statewide
  • sponsor FREE workshops on a variety of legal topics throughout New Mexico
  • distribute contributions to legal service programs

For our Members:

  • help members meet new clients and accumulate pro bono hours
  • provide legal education

You can read more about the New Mexico State Bar Foundation here. 

About the Foundation’s Programs:

The Center for Legal Education (CLE) is a non-profit New Mexico accredited CLE course provider dedicated to providing high quality, affordable educational programs to the legal community. CLE offers a full range of educational services including live seminars, live webcasts, live replays, national series teleseminars and online self-study videos.

Legal Resources for the Elderly Program (LREP) is a free, statewide helpline for New Mexico residents age 55 and older. The program does not have any income restrictions. LREP is a joint project of the New Mexico State Bar Foundation and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department and has been in existence for nearly 30 years.  Through its helpline, LREP provides legal advice and brief services to more than 4000 New Mexico seniors annually. Each caller speaks with a trained intake staff member, who collects necessary contact and demographic information. After completing an intake, each eligible caller speaks to one of LREP’s five staff attorneys. LREP staff attorneys are highly qualified professionals specializing in the legal issues that most affect New Mexico seniors.

LREP staff attorneys provide legal advice and brief services in most areas of civil law. Examples of civil legal areas on which LREP frequently advises include:  debt problems/bankruptcy, employment issues, foreclosure, kinship guardianship, grandparent visitation, adult guardianship, landlord/tenant issues, Medicaid long-term care, Medicare, Powers of Attorney, probate, Social Security Disability, Transfer on Death Deeds, and general estate planning.

Modest Means Helpline (MMH) is a civil legal telephone helpline and pro bono referral service for New Mexico residents of modest means. MMH was created through the efforts of the Access to Justice Commission, the State Bar of New Mexico, and the New Mexico State Bar Foundation.  

MMH has been in operation since October, 2022, and is a free, statewide legal helpline for New Mexico residents whose income is at or below 500% of the federal poverty guidelines. Roughly 75% of New Mexicans are income-eligible for MMH services.  MMH provides extensive legal advice and brief services including helping callers locate and complete court forms. Often MMH is able to help the self-represented litigant caller to resolve their questions and move through the next step of their legal matter. In its first year of operation, MMH served 1587 people and received nearly 14,000 phone calls. The most common legal issues the MMH callers have are custody and divorce, landlord-tenant, and consumer law.  Currently the MMH staff includes 2 bilingual intake screeners, 3.75 staff attorneys, a half-time program administer, and a managing attorney.

MMH also provides legal advice to small business owners and in has to date offered 3 webinars on small business topics.  These webinars are available on demand on the MMH website.  

Both LREP and MMH helplines have a panel of hundreds of pro bono attorneys to whom cases are referred if the client needs more than the helplines can offer and the case is appropriate for pro bono representation.  Additionally, both helplines offer services in English and Spanish.  You can learn more about the Modest Means Helpline here.

Leadership:

The New Mexico State Bar Foundation is governed by 9 Board Directors, five of which are State Bar of New Mexico Board of Bar Commissioner members, three are active New Mexico attorneys, and one is a public member.  The current officers are Hon. Carl J. Butkus, President; Gerald G. Dixon, President-Elect; and Stefanie K. Davis, Secretary Treasurer.  You can see the full Board here.

Sources:

https://www.sbnm.org/Bar-Foundation