New Mexico Legal Aid

Advancing fairness & justice for all
Free legal aid in New Mexico



New Mexico Legal Aid's Sonya Bellafant Champions Equal Access to Justice at UNM Law School Panel

New Mexico Legal Aid’s Executive Director, Sonya Bellafant, was a distinguished panelist at an event at UNM Law School co-sponsored by Equal Access to Justice and APIL on March 20. This marks the third consecutive year of collaboration, emphasizing outreach to UNM Law Students.

Judge Erin O’Connell opened the event with a presentation on the importance of civil legal services, emphasizing the need for them in New Mexico’s “legal desert.” For instance, 75% of low-income households face at least one legal problem, and 92% do not get any or enough legal help. For every 14,000 low-income individuals in New Mexico, there is only one NMLA attorney.

Alongside esteemed colleagues, Rudy Sanchez of DNA People’s Legal Services and Maria Griego of the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, Sonya addressed the critical significance of equal access to justice and the provision of legal services to underserved communities. With Serge Martinez as the moderator, the panel explored vital topics surrounding legal equity and community empowerment.

Sonya’s participation underscores NMLA’s commitment to advancing justice and accessibility for all.

“We each have an obligation to use our expertise to assist those who normally wouldn’t get access to legal aid attorneys,” Sonya told the students. “And what we’re asking you to do today is to consider joining this army of civil legal aid employees, representatives, advocates, community justice workers, and judges so that we can begin to change the trajectory of those who are lower income and everyone in their household. That’s done by getting access to the legal system and having someone who can advocate for someone who cannot advocate for themselves.”

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