New Mexico Legal Aid

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Free legal aid in New Mexico



Advocating for Equity: Bryce Dorato's Journey as a Housing Stability Attorney

In the world of legal aid, few areas are as critical as housing law, where individuals facing eviction or housing insecurity often find themselves navigating complex legal landscapes with limited resources. Bryce Dorato, a housing attorney with New Mexico Legal Aid, is driven by a deep-seated desire to help the most vulnerable.

Growing up with a mother who transitioned from nursing to law school, Dorato’s interest in the legal field was sparked early on. “I have some friends that are attorneys, so I made a decision to go to law school,” he recalls. Law school, he admits, was no walk in the park. “Law school was stressful,” he reflects, “but I really liked clinic at law school,” where he was first introduced to housing law through his work with tenants facing eviction.

Driven by a passion for public interest work, Dorato’s journey led him to New Mexico Legal Aid in 2021. His experience thus far has been both educational and rewarding. Starting in the Intake Referral and Advice unit, he primarily handled housing cases before transitioning to the Housing Law Practice Group as a Housing Stability Staff Attorney, where he now focuses on eviction prevention and administrative advocacy to help individuals maintain or regain housing benefits.

Reflecting on his role, Dorato emphasizes the importance of stabilizing individuals and families facing housing crises. “Sometimes, it’s just a demand letter to someone,” he explains, “and that person who’s either trying to evict a client or terminate their voucher backs off and the client gets to keep their benefit or their housing.” For Dorato, the personal connections forged with clients further enrich his work experience.

Recently, Dorato achieved notable successes in cases related to the CARES Act and in assisting a disabled client fleeing domestic violence. Despite the victories, he remains humble, acknowledging the element of luck and timing in legal outcomes.

However, Dorato’s journey as a housing attorney is not without its challenges, particularly as a black attorney in a field still largely dominated by white counterparts. According to the American Bar Association’s 2020 Profile of the Legal Profession, 5% of all lawyers are African American – the same percentage as 10 years earlier – but the U.S. population is 13.4% African American. According to the State Bar of New Mexico’s Committee on Diversity in the Legal Profession, only 2% of lawyers in the state are Black Americans.

Dorato acknowledges the inherent difficulties faced by people of color pursuing legal careers.

“I’ve always wanted to do something to help people who are on the wrong end of power imbalances,” he states. Yet, he acknowledges the financial barriers that often deter aspiring attorneys of color from pursuing public interest work. Despite these challenges, Dorato remains steadfast in serving his community.

When asked about advice for other people of color considering careers in law, Dorato emphasizes the importance of pursuing one’s interests. “Just do what you’re into,” he advises, underscoring the resilience and determination necessary to navigate the legal profession.

In Bryce Dorato, New Mexico Legal Aid has found a dedicated advocate driven by a profound sense of justice and equity. As he continues his work in housing law, Dorato stands as a testament to the transformative power of legal aid in shaping communities and empowering those in need

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