Tech Grad Elected American Bar Association Officer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. April 18, 2013 – Adding yet another milestone in her continued leadership of local, state, and national bar associations, Socorro native and New Mexico Tech graduate Mary T. Torres has been elected secretary of the American Bar Association for 2014. Her election marks the first time in its history that a Hispanic woman has served as an officer of the ABA, which is the nation’s largest organization for lawyers.
Mary T. Torres
“I’m really excited about this new path of service to my profession,” Torres said. “We had a reception in our suite on the night I won and it was really great, and a celebration for my family, who has always been so very supportive of my endeavors.. It was really great having my family there to celebrate this with me.” Torres and her family and supporters celebrated with New Mexico decorations and 20 dozen green chile rellenos made by her mother, Euna Torres.
The ABA House of Delegates selected Torres at the ABA Midyear Meeting on February 10 in Dallas. She was accompanied by husband John Chavez, her brother Paul and his wife, Minnie, of Socorro, and her brother Tom and his wife, Nancy, who live in Fort Worth, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews. Her family, friends, and members of the State Bar celebrated as they awaited the results of the election and after learning of her victory.
Torres was named a Tech Scholar and earned her bachelor’s in general studies at New Mexico Tech in 1983. She then taught at Socorro High School for six years before enrolling in law school at the University of New Mexico. She credits her parents, the late Gene Torres and her mother Euna for instilling in her a desire to continue her education. Her father was a strong and avid supporter of New Mexico Tech, and her brothers continue that tradition.
She said her time at Tech taught her to work hard, be prepared and be willing to ask for direction and help when necessary.
“One of my favorite professors was Dr. Corey,” Torres said of the English professor. “And Barbara Popp, who taught the education courses necessary for me to earn my teaching certificate. I also really liked and admired Dr. Cormack, who taught psychology. You could go to them for anything. They truly had open door policies. I learned from them how to be a good teacher, and to have that same open-door and approachable policy.”
While a teacher at Socorro High, Torres started a mock trial team. Former District Judge Neal Mertz helped her coach the team and became her mentor. Mertz opened the courthouse to Torres and her students for practices and helped coach the team. Socorro won the state championship twice and earned trips to the national competition.
From that experience, “I got bit by the law bug,” she said.
After earning her law degree at UNM School of Law in 1992, she became active with the State Bar of New Mexico right away. She became the chair of the Young Lawyer’s Division, which helped her network with other attorneys. She became president of the state bar in 2002.
Her history of activities, awards, and appointments is extensive, with a national presence that is impressive. Torres was the first Hispanic woman to serve as a president of any state bar association in the country when elected in 2002. She has served on boards of or been active in the UNM School of Law, the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association, the Defense Research Institute, and with state and national Hispanic Bar associations.
She was part of the executive council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents from 2002 to 2005, leading that organization as president in 2009 – again, as the first Latina to do so. Her long-standing commitment to the ABA has been marked by service on numerous committees and commissions. Currently, she is the chair of the ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and secretary of the Minority Caucus to the House of Delegates. She was the only State Bar leader to serve on the Steering Committee for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Dialogue on Freedom program, which was created after the September 11 attacks to teach high school students the important cornerstones of our constitution: liberty, freedom, and justice.
Her nomination will be confirmed at the August ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Until then, she will hold secretary-elect status while she serves on the ABA Board of Governors during 2013-14. She will begin her three-year term as secretary in August 2014.
Torres primarily handles civil litigation matters at the Beall & Biehler Law Firm in Albuquerque. She has extensive experience in civil rights, employment, insurance, premises liability, and governmental liability-related matters, with jury and bench trial experience in both state and federal courts.
Torres is married to John Chavez of Albuquerque. She has three step-children and two grandchildren.
– NMT –
By Greg L. Gambill/ New Mexico Bar Association and
Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech