Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul (’01) was appointed to her position in January of 2019. She then asked Kimberly Dutcher (’01) to be her Navajo Nation Deputy Attorney General. It is so inspiring to have a powerful team of ILP alumni in the Navajo Nation Department of Justice! In conjunction with their upcoming lunch lecture, we asked McPaul and Dutcher to share their thoughts on their positions and advice for our current students.
As Attorney General, what sort of impact do you hope to make for the Navajo Nation?
Doreen McPaul: I hope to make a positive difference for my tribe and my own people. At the Department of Justice, that means organizing the department in a way that best serves the needs of our clients, being responsive to client requests, and supporting our legal team so that they are enabled to provide the highest
quality of legal services to our clients.
Kimberly Dutcher: I hope to make an impact on the Navajo Nation by improving the Department of Justice to enable its attorneys and advocates to provide exemplary legal services to our clients, the Navajo Nation Council, the Office of the President
and Vice President and Navajo Nation departments, programs and agencies.
What strengths do you bring to the position?
Doreen McPaul: Experience, integrity and commitment.
Kimberly Dutcher: I would like to think that my experience working with other tribes, my background in organizational development and my willingness to focus on problem solving are my strengths.
What made you interested in this position?
Doreen McPaul: I’ve worked as an attorney for tribal governments for over a decade and chair a national organization committed to tribal government attorneys. The position was a natural fit for my experience and passion.
Kimberly Dutcher: I have always wanted to work for my tribe. As soon as AG McPaul contacted me about serving the Nation, I was interested!
How do you think your career has led to this position?
Doreen McPaul: My career started in the judicial branch of government practice. First as a law clerk at the Arizona Court of Appeals and then as a staff attorney for the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch in my hometown on the Navajo reservation. I moved to Albuquerque to work for a boutique Indian Law firm and to learn to practice law on behalf of tribes and tribal entities. I moved back to Arizona to teach
at the law school for a year and run the Indian Legal Clinic, before finding my
passion practicing law in-house for tribal governments.
Kimberly Dutcher: I believe that everything I have done, including prior to going to law school at ASU, led to me serving in this position. Each job I have held contributed to my experience and knowledge in different ways, and I am grateful for both positive and not so positive experiences.
How do you think your legal education at ASU Law and the ILP led you to this position?
Doreen McPaul: My education at ASU College of Law and the ILP served as the foundation for my legal career. The foresight of the law school and the Navajo Nation to develop a fellowship program to promote Navajo lawyers is the reason I was able to go to law school and the reason I chose ASU Law.
Kimberly Dutcher: First, AG McPaul and I met at an orientation for ASU and the ILP back in 1998! My legal education at ASU and the relationships I made during law school are the foundation for my legal career. Professors Rebecca Tsosie, Robert Clinton, Myles Lynk, Robert Bartels and others were instrumental to my education and development as an attorney.
What advice do you have for current students interested in similar positions?
Doreen McPaul: My advice to students is to work hard, to be prepared, to keep challenging yourself, and take advantage of all the opportunities you can and open all the doors possible, to network and build relationships, to know your strengths and weaknesses, and to follow your passions. And to do all those things with the
highest level of integrity and professionalism.
Kimberly Dutcher: You can go home again! Tribal nations have so many challenges and it is normal to want to be involved in everything, but everyone has the same 24 hours each day, so prioritize. Remember your role as an attorney and who makes decisions. While you are in law school, learn about different legal career paths and find what interests you and how you can use it to best serve your nation, if that is
what you choose to do.