University of New Mexico School of Law Emerita Professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, was selected to receive the 2014 Excellence in Legal Service Award from MALDEF, the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. The award, which recognizes individuals, corporations and law firms who have been instrumental in advancing justice for Latinos, will be presented at MALDEF’s San Antonio Awards Gala on Friday, Sept.19. 

Sedillo Lopez joined the faculty of the UNM School of Law in 1986 and taught a broad range of courses until 2001, when she became director of the law school’s Clinical Program. During her eight years as director, she initiated an Access to Justice Practitioner Network for lawyers, worked to increase the legislative appropriation for the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, was instrumental in the development of the Business and Tax Clinic, and supported creation of the Medical Legal Alliance. Sedillo Lopez has worked to share the New Mexico clinical model for legal education nationally.

On February 1, 2014, Sedillo Lopez was appointed executive director of Enlace Comunitario, a social justice organization working to eliminate domestic violence in the Latino immigrant community.

Sedillo Lopez is honored by this award. “My first reaction was, wait, I haven't been doing this work that long, and then I realized it also recognizes the body of work with the clinical law program at UNM. So I will accept this award in honor of Claudia Medina, the founder of Enlace Comunitario, and the UNM School of Law,” she said.

UNM Law School Emerita Professor Gloria Valencia-Weber, now on the Board of Directors for the Legal Services Corporation, said that Sedillo Lopez is a lifetime worker for improving the quality of life of the Latino communities.

“In her work as a law professor and as director of the UNM Clinical Program, Antoinette created and delivered the services that make everyday life possible for Hispanics facing problems in enjoying their rights,” Valencia-Weber said. “In her work now as Executive Director of Enlace Communitario, she continues the excellent work. Antoinette is still a pioneer as she devises ways to assist the Spanish speaking community in these times when many disfavor communities with distinct cultures and language.”