Friday, November 04, 2005

A call to duty in New Mexico

A special commission appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court is calling on the lawyers of its state bar to improve access to the legal sysem for all:
The last in a series of three public hearings on expanding access to the state's legal system takes place Friday in Santa Fe. The 16-member New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice, appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court, will conduct the hearings, according to a commission release. The commission, which is co-chaired by New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, is gathering information on how to improve delivery of "affordable, quality legal services" to the state's large low-income population. The hearings are part of an overall effort by the state's legal community to reform the process of providing legal assistance to the poor. The State Bar of New Mexico recently adopted proposals that would increase the number of pro bono (donated) hours lawyers are expected to provide along with better record-keeping to assure compliance. Several agencies already work to assist low-income residents with legal problems. But commission members say that's still not enough, and the hearings are aimed at trying to find other ways to provide assistance. The commission held hearings earlier in Roswell and Las Cruces. The Santa Fe session is the last meeting before the group meets to formulate its recommendations. It is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Judicial Complex at 100 Catron Street in New Mexico's capital city.
Providing representation to the persistently under-represented segments of our society is the highest calling of our profession. The "rule of law" means much more to those who can access it than to those who cannot. The State Bar of New Mexico gets it, and we are all better off for their fine efforts. Here is the article from New Mexico Business Weekly.


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