Spotlight on Greg Gambill, ABA YLD DR 23

Vol. 39 No. 4

By

Greg Gambill is the 2012–2014 ABA YLD District Representative for New Mexico and Arizona. If there is a typical path to follow to become a lawyer, Gambill did not follow it.

Experience of Leadership

Not so long ago, a college friend convinced Greg to sign up for a forestry crew in eastern Washington State, and so began his summer gig fighting wildfires while studying at the University of Washington. After graduation, and faced with the choice between putting his humanities degree to use or continuing a career putting out fires, he took a position as a member of the Smokey Bear Hotshot Crew in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Hotshot crews are highly skilled 20-person fire suppression teams employed mostly by the U.S. Forest Service and less frequently by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, various Native American tribes, Alaska, Utah, Kern County (California), and, in the case of the Granite Mountain Hotshots in Arizona, a municipality. Hotshot crews started in Southern California in the late 1940s in the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The name was meant to refer to these crews’ difficult assignments on fires. There are around 115 hotshot crews nationwide.

Reflecting on his four years with Smokey Bear, Gambill notes: “That experience changed my outlook on life. Afterward, it took me a long time to figure out how I could take that experience and apply it to law school at the University of Illinois and the practice of law. Ultimately, I decided it was about leadership. When I think about being a leader and cultivating leadership in the ABA, the State Bar of New Mexico, or my law firm, I draw on my experience with Smokey Bear frequently.”

That interest in leadership carried over into active participation in bar activities and led to Gambill receiving, in 2013, the State Bar of New Mexico Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year Award. The New Mexico Bar recognized him for his public service, member service, and community outreach work with the Young Lawyers Division.

Promoting Equality Under the Law

Gambill spends a lot of time thinking about ways to stimulate more pro bono legal service among lawyers in private practice: “Lately, I have been fond of saying that being active in the bar is great, but if a lawyer is not taking on direct representation of people who cannot afford a lawyer, or who could not otherwise access the justice system, then that lawyer should consider whether they are meaningfully discharging what I see as a duty among lawyers to promote equality under the law.”

Over the past couple of years, Gambill’s public service work has been focused on delivering legal services to the nation’s veterans. “After the State Bar of New Mexico adopted the 2012 ABA YLD public service project aimed at consulting veterans about military service-connected disabilities, we realized that disability benefits are a tiny fraction of veterans’ overall need for legal services,” Gambill remarked. “The State Bar YLD, under the strong leadership of [now immediate-past] Chair Keya Koul, took the lessons learned from that project to develop a series of monthly clinics for veterans that would address any legal issue, whether specific to veterans or not.” Beginning in June 2013, the State Bar YLD, in partnership with the New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System, as well as community partners from around the state, began offering monthly walk-in clinics for veterans at the Veterans Administration campus in Albuquerque. The clinics have served over 300 veterans so far.

Telling Stories

Currently, Gambill is an attorney in the Albuquerque office of Montgomery & Andrews, P.A., where his practice is oriented toward health law and commercial litigation matters, and includes transactional, regulatory, and litigation work. He is also a member of the ABA Health Law Section and the State Bar of New Mexico Health Law Section. He loves telling stories about the Smokey Bear Hotshot Crew to anyone who will listen and can be reached at ggambill@montand.com if you want to hear some.

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