This was a news release sent out Thursday morning from the American Bar Association:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2011—The American Bar Association Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession will present the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award to New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Petra Jimenez Maes, the commission announced today.
The annual Spirit of Excellence Awards celebrate the accomplishments of lawyers who promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession.
“Justice Maes’ devotion to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession is evident in her positive influence in the New Mexico legal community,” commission Chair Reginald M. Turner said of the state’s first Hispanic female chief justice.
After becoming the first Hispanic female law student at the University of New Mexico School of Law, Maes went on to pave a path for all Hispanic women, earning the National Hispanic Bar Association’s “Latina Lawyer of the Year” award in 1999. The following year, she was considered one of “The 100 Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine. In 2009, Maes was given the SAGE 20 Women Making a Difference award by SAGE Magazine.
As justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, Maes authored opinions in complex cases, supervised the judiciary’s automation department and lobbied for the judiciary’s budget. During her term as chief justice, her initiatives included changes to the process for divorce proceedings, designation of Children’s Court judges, better treatment of jurors and improved court security.
The Spirit of Excellence award will be presented during the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting, Feb. 4, in New Orleans.
The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is a catalyst to change the legal profession to reflect the society it serves. It helps racially and ethnically diverse lawyers advance their careers and standing in the profession. Its leadership, programs and information help the profession understand and eliminate racism, bigotry and discrimination. The Commission works to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession, and thus enrich it.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional membership organization. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.