Donor Story

A Prudent Gift for Jurisprudence

Robin and Leo Romero Endow Fund to Enrich UNM School of Law Experience

By Hilary Mayall Jetty

Posted April 21, 2016

Students usually go to law school because they desire to seek justice for individuals and communities. These days, however, many also need a lot of help. Economic forces and the proliferation of law schools in recent decades have meant that more graduates are competing for fewer jobs.

Yet Robin and Leo Romero have confidence in the futures of these law students. Their relationship with the UNM School of Law spans more than four decades, and education has been a shared passion in their lives. The couple’s generous lead gift to the Annual Fund for Law, as well as the establishment of the Leo M. and Robin C. Romero Endowed Fund, reflect their belief in the intrinsic value of a law school education and the importance of helping students afford it.

Robin and Leo Romero pose with their German Shepherd, Maxx. Photo: Kim Jew Photography

Robin and Leo Romero pose with their German Shepherd, Maxx.
Photo: Kim Jew Photography

“We are convinced that law is really the last liberal arts graduate degree,” Robin said. “It develops critical thinking and problem solving skills that can be applied in any field.” Leo encourages students to think about legal policies as well as developing skills as practitioners. “I enjoy seeing their minds open to ambiguity so they can see multiple sides of an issue,” he explained. “As students gain confidence, their ability to construct and critique arguments also increases. These abilities make them valuable in many different fields—not only those related to law.”

Leo and Robin met at Oberlin College more than 50 years ago. When Leo joined the UNM School of Law faculty in 1972, after receiving his LL.M. (master of laws) degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he was returning home. He grew up in Las Vegas, N.M., and his parents attended UNM to prepare for careers in teaching and school administration. Now an emeritus law professor, Leo served as dean twice and remains actively engaged with the school and the legal community. His honors include the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award and the Alumni Board’s Distinguished Achievement Award. He currently chairs a committee on bail reform convened by the New Mexico Supreme Court and serves on the Public Defender Commission.

Robin, a Rochester, N.Y., transplant, earned both her teaching certification and MA in education for gifted children at UNM, taught in several Albuquerque middle schools, and eventually spent a decade as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Santa Fe. She is an editor, a Master Gardener, and a hospice volunteer who has worked with the law school in many capacities. Leo and Robin have two sons; one is a professor of biology at Tufts University, and the other an oil and gas lawyer in Houston.

The Moot Courtroom at the UNM School of Law is now the Leo M. Romero Classroom. The couple’s endowed fund, which supports moot court and mock trial teams as well as student scholarships and faculty research, is a testament to their shared history and high expectations.

UNM School of Law Co-Deans Sergio Pareja and Alfred Mathewson affirm the sentiments of current and past faculty, administrators and students. “Robin and Leo Romero are an amazing team,” they wrote. “Their gifts truly show the depth of their commitment to this school and its students. We are forever grateful to both of them.”

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