Why some Attorneys go Non-Profit

By Tania Santistevan

As an SMU student with a few paralegal classes under my belt, I’m fascinated to learn about the career choices of nonprofit attorneys in Taos, NM. In our Environmental Communication class over J Term, we’re examining the many environmental issues here — from wolf extinction and the plight of ponderosa pines, to methane emission and nuclear waste run-off. Advocacy and legal remedies for future generations seem to far outweigh personal economic gain. The economic benefit most attorneys would receive for such efforts, takes a backseat to saving the environment. I see three reasons why this might occur: 1) a passion for future generations, 2) a desire for educating the public, 3) the will to challenge the status quo.

In speaking to Kyle Tisdale of WELC (Western Environmental Law Center) and Brian Shields, founder of Amigos Bravos, it became apparent that one reason why an attorney might choose this path and be so PASSIONATE is the opportunity to consistently ensure that thoughtful decisions on complex issues help protect the environment for future generations. They know that vital issues surrounding water, wildlife policy must continually be monitored by those who have the passion and drive to see it through.

A second reason some attorneys go Non Profit is to INFORM AND EDUCATE the public. We often neglect to think about our footprint on the planet and what we as an informed people can do to make a positive impact for us and for the next generation. It takes years of bureaucracy to change things. People like Tisdale, Shields and his wife, Swanie Morris, Tara Waters Lumpkin (founder of  Voices for Biodiversity) and others we’ve met in our class, are in it for the long haul. Making people more aware through mainstream and social media, as well as grass roots relationship building, is a never-ending mission.

To CHALLENGE the status quo and effect change is a third reason why some attorneys go nonprofit. This social environmental movement is not a new game in town, but some of the issues we face with diminishing resources in our future are. The significant cultural and economic diversity in New Mexico, makes this region a hot-bed for change. The actions of this small town and the concerns these attorney’s and other environmental proponents have on our entire planet often go unsung. And yet their resolve remains.

To connect and learn more, here are a few sites to visit:



“All our surroundings hold in store the clues to what has gone before. A fascination long prevails to understand time’s every tale.”- by Celia Berrell.

Environmental Love


About taniaware

SMU '16 Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Major and Political Science Minor student pursuing a law degree.
Image | This entry was posted in Communication Studies at SMU, Environmental Communication, SMU in Taos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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