Born in Santa Fe NM and educated at the University of New Mexico, Michael Vigil joined with other students to address the civil rights and social and economic justice issues of the 1960s and 70s. He graduated from UNM Law School in 1974 and started work at the Community Law Center in Santa Fe. Vigil and his partners represented New Mexico community organizations, Labor Unions, La Clinica del Pueblo in Tierra Amarilla NM and other litigants in civil rights issues, particularly in police brutality cases throughout the state. As a member of the National Lawyers Guild, he traveled to Nicaragua as an observer and Labor consultant after the Sandinistas took power in 1979. In 1994, Vigil was appointed Judge in the First Judicial District NM where he was involved in the development of Drug Court and Treatment Court (alternative sentencing programs).
The Working People's History of New Mexico Project (WPHNM) is an oral labor history project created to gather the labor stories of working people in New Mexico. While part of the interviews focus on the specific jobs that the interviewees performed, the interviews also explore labor-management relations as well as union, workers council, and social activism participation. The interviews contain information about family and social relationships and offer themes of social and historical interest in New Mexico and the US.