ILP Alumni with Concurrent Degrees

Law school is tough enough, why pursue joint degrees? Will this serve Indian Country? Again, we asked our alumni.

  • Robert A. Rosette (’96), Partner and founder of Rosette, LLP
  • Marlene Ray (’97), business manager and philanthropist
  • Perry Riggs (’98), Deputy Executive Director, Navajo Nation Washington Office
  • Theresa Rosier (’98), Deputy General Counsel, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
  • Verrin Kewenvoyouma (’04), attorney, business advisor, and owner of Kewenvoyouma Law, PLLC
  • Courtney Monteiro (’06), Senior Vice President, Sovereign Finance, LLC
  • Bartley Harris (’08), Attorney, Four Rivers Indian Legal Services
  • Kris Beecher (2L), student and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Navajo Housing Authority

What is your current occupation and how long have you held that position? 

Theresa Rosier: Deputy General Counsel, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Marlene Ray: Currently, along with managing two family businesses, my focus has been on philanthropy and volunteering which has included tutoring/mentoring Native American high school students and managing the Ray Jones Scholarship Fund benefiting California Indians pursuing postsecondary higher education. It is a great honor and privilege to be able to encourage and assist young Native people pursuing higher education either in college or trade, planting seeds for generation after generation benefiting their families, their communities and all Native peoples.

Verrin Kewenvoyouma: I am an attorney, business advisor, and owner of Kewenvoyouma Law, PLLC. We are a boutique law firm which provides legal and business counsel to Indian tribes and their enterprises, primarily in the areas of corporate transactions. I have been the sole and managing partner of our firm for nine years. Prior to that, I briefly worked for another boutique law firm, KPMG, and a large national bank doing commercial finance. 

Kris Beecher: I am currently a JD/MBA law student starting my last year of law school in the fall of 2019. Additionally, I also serve as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Navajo Housing Authority, a position I have held since July 2017.

How have your concurrent MBA and JD degrees affected your career? Do you wish you had chosen a different field? 

Theresa Rosier: The dual JD/MBA degree was an extremely helpful degree to obtain prior to starting my career. The additional exposure that I had at the WP Carey School of Business has helped me in the following ways: 1) I am very comfortable with public speaking, and I always credit that the my MBA training, 2) I work in the area of Indian economic development, and the MBA helps me work through the business side of the transactions, even though I am acting in an attorney capacity, and 3) the MBA program’s emphasis on team work has helped me shepherd large projects and manage staff in an effective manner. 

Marlene Ray: As the first member of my Tribe (Table Mountain Rancheria) to graduate from college (Stanford University) and then to pursue a professional degree, I decided to pursue a joint JD/MBA degree because of the legal issues and business interests that Tribes encounter and knowing in some way I would be representing and advocating for Native peoples or businesses in my career and personal life. At the time, I thought a business degree would complement and enhance my participation in the Indian Legal Program and my interest in environmental and natural resources law, a decision that was proven true for me.

After graduation from law school, I returned to Alaska to work on an environmental case in the legal department at BP Exploration (Alaska), a company I had worked for during college summers. My focus in law school in environmental and natural resources law were a great foundation for my work and interests in Alaska. From Alaska, I moved to Portland, Oregon, to pursue an L.L.M. in Environmental and Natural Resources Law at Lewis and Clark Law School.  Although I did not finish the program, I gained greater knowledge of the natural resources issues facing Tribes in the northwest as well as a new perspective on the economic, historical and legal context of Tribes in the northwest.  Upon returning to California, I was elected onto my Tribe’s board of directors at our casino, an experience that engaged the knowledge I had garnered from law school and business school as well as my previous work.

Verrin Kewenvoyouma: While law school and experience can train you to become a good lawyer, neither legal experience nor law school train you to be a good business person. My MBA has been instrumental for me to not only manage my own firm, but to provide fully competent business advice to my clients. My joint degrees have paid off ten-fold: I have been able to raise my family (and extended family), doing the job I love, and now have opportunities to create opportunity within my own community and the communities within which I work. In short, my own career has been a means to an ends to create opportunity not only for myself, but to empower others as well. When you combine business and legal experience it is not zero sum game: you will find ways to create value for your clients and the people with whom they do business.

Kris Beecher: While working on these degrees I have had the benefit of taking certain aspects of what

I have learned in both disciplines and applying them in near real-time to my duties as a commissioner. I do not believe that I could have picked a better match as far as my education and the direction of my career.

In what ways do you use your knowledge of law in your career and everyday life? 

Theresa Rosier: I am an attorney and work with the law every day. I often say, that I am professional problem solver. Most of my day is working across the table with experts from various fields who all are working towards a common goal/result.  We have to work together to get that project or goal done for the client. 

Marlene Ray: Throughout the years, all of my professional and personal experiences have in some way been enriched and informed by the degrees I earned at Stanford University, ASU Law and ASU W.P. Carey School of Business as well as by the people, mentors, classmates and colleagues I’ve met as a result of attending college, law school and business school.  As I mentor young Native students either getting ready to begin college or considering a post-graduate degree, I encourage them to consider their vast array of options, research different programs and schools, talk with current students in the program or school they’re considering, visit the program in action, figure out a budget, know there are people and resources to help them, and most importantly, to believe in themselves that their heart’s desire is important, worthy and possible.

Verrin Kewenvoyouma: A wise lawyer once told me, “you can not become a good business and transaction lawyer unless you’ve done some litigation in those areas as well.”  Even in scenarios where all parties have the best of intentions, as lawyers, we are trained to see the world in the most challenging ways and draft to those situations.  Indeed, in litigation contract matters I have seen those situations come to life.  While we can’t move through the world walking on egg shells, I’ve found that no matter the scenario, business, law, or otherwise, if you approach a situation recognizing all foreseeable options, very importantly, the solutions as well, you’ll be well prepared for anything.  In short, think of all the challenges and benefits of your decisions, and be prepared. 

Kris Beecher: Whether I am working on projects as a commissioner or advocating for issues that I care about, my knowledge of the law informs my decisions and the way I approach potential situations. With a background in both business and law, I have a much broader range of understanding of why and how people and businesses make the decisions they do.

Would you recommend a law degree or concurrent degrees to prospective students? What would you say to a student considering earning these degrees? 

Theresa Rosier: I ask people what they really want to do, if they tell me that they want to be a prosecutor, litigator, tax attorney, etc., then, I recommend that they only attend the law school. If people talk about promoting business in underserved communities, working with non-profits, or they are more open minded in their professional goals, I recommend that they explore either the joint degree or the MBA degree (without the legal degree). The MBA program at ASU is fantastic, and can open so many doors to people. If you want to be a litigator, the MBA program doesn’t add a lot of value.  If you want to work in an in-house setting or in the commercial transaction setting, the MBA is extremely helpful.M

Verrin Kewenvoyouma: I highly recommend the joint JD and MBA program for anyone who may be pursuing a career in business, business law, or seeks to manage a firm. While I can attach a price tag to the one extra year I spent in grad school to earn my MBA, the value has been immeasurable and continues to pay off. I would also be happy to speak to any student who may be considering these degrees. 

Kris Beecher: I would absolutely recommend any prospective JD student to consider any of the concurrent degrees available at their school. A great way to set yourself apart from the rest of the law students you will be graduating with is earning a concurrent degree. Having a broader background of education would only be an asset moving forward.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Verrin Kewenvoyouma: Much of law school is structured on the individual, and that make sense: you are the only one who has to take the LSAT and pass the bar exam.  The analytical skills you learn have to be developed on an individual basis.  However, in business school, much like life and in a law practice, there is definitely much more comradery and team orientated projects.  You quickly learn how to leverage your own strengths and weaknesses to work with other people for the best outcome of your collective colleagues and clients.  I think the experience of both programs creates a good contrast of what you should experience in life after school and in practice.  Along those lines, the relationships I made in both programs, and especially in the ILP, I still value very much today.  On a daily basis I work with folks who were graduates of the program, and today, in fact, I’ve spoken to no less than four ASU ILP grads on varying matters. 

Kris Beecher: If I could go back and do it all over again, I would make the exact same decision to pursue a JD/MBA. In fact, I would probably advocate harder for more of my colleagues in law school to pursue the MBA component.

Alumni Tribal Court Judges – Pt. 2

This is the second part of the Alumni Tribal Court – Experience and Advice series.

There are a variety of areas of law that are offered at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and many students have wondered: ‘What can I do with my law degree?’ We asked some of our alumni to share their experiences, expertise and advice on becoming a tribal court judge and the responsibilities in that position.

  • Shawn Attakai (’00) tribal appellate court judge for the Yavapai-Apache Nation Court of Appeals in Camp Verde, Arizona
  • Sean Cahill (’11) tribal appellate court judge for Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Petoskey, Michigan
  • Joseph Flies-Away (’04) former chief judge of the Hualapai Court of Appeals in Peach Springs, Arizona
  • Anita Jackson (’93) former pro tem judge for the Sitka Tribal Court in Sitka, Alaska

(Judge Sean Cahill being sworn in)

Q: How long have you served as a tribal court judge?

Shawn Attakai: I was appointed in June 2018.  I have been a judge for approximately one year. 

Sean Cahill: Has sat on the Appellate Court of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa since 2015.

Joseph Flies-Away: It wasn’t a choice, really. It’s just what happened. I was working for the Hualapai Tribal Nation as an economic development planner/grants writer and then became a tribal council member. Then the chairman said, “Somebody should go to law school,” and from that point on it was put in my head that I should go. I went to law school to be helpful to the tribe with economic development. The lawyers supposedly always had the answers. So I went to law school. After completing the first year I was appointed chief judge, which was not a plan of mine, but it happened. I was the chief judge for a two-year appointment after one year of law school. I learned how to “do” law while acting as a judge, not from law school. Then after the two years I went to the Kennedy School at Harvard University. After that I came back to Arizona and started law school all over again and finally finished in 2004. I have served as a pro tem judge for other courts as well. Much of my work as judge (at Hualapai) was in the wellness court. Working as a judge was a serendipitous thing; it just happened.

The late Delbert and late Earl [Havatone], both former Tribal Chairmen of the Hualapai Indian Tribe, followed each other in their leadership. The two of them were sitting around and one of them said to me, “You should go to law school.” I had thought about it as a kid, being a lawyer or a doctor. I think like a lot of kids do, I guess. When they said it, it made sense. We always had to have a lawyer present, because every time there was a question they had to look to the lawyer, and I think Delbert and Earl didn’t like that. They were not Hualapai. They knew I could do it.

[I was approached about becoming chief judge when] my cousin called me and said, “They have the chief judge job open. Do you want to do it?” I said, “I’ve only been in law school one year,” but she said, “I think they want to appoint you.” I could have said no and not apply, but that wasn’t the kind of thing you do.

Anita Jackson: I served as a Tribal Judge for 16 years.

In December 1979 I was hired to work as the Juvenile Advocate for my tribe’s Legal Aid Program. This was the first exposure I had to the law and I realized then that I wanted to have a career in law. In the spring of 1980 I applied for the Tribal Juvenile Court Judge and was selected (our Tribal Council appoints our judges). I took my oath of office in June 1980 at the age of 27 and served for two (2) four-year terms.

I have been elected to serve on my Tribal Council for this next term. I will be sworn-in on May 6. A new chapter and another opportunity to serve my people in a different role.

(Judge Anita Jackson, 1980’s)

Q: Why did you choose to pursue this career? What was your pathway to serve as a tribal court judge? Did your time at the ILP impact this decision in any way?

Shawn Attakai: Currently, I am serving as a judge on a part-time basis. My current job is a staff attorney advising the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch. My judge job is serving the Yavapai-Apache Court of Appeals. I was told that this job as a court of appeals judge has a light caseload. So far we have only decided motions. However, I joined the ranks of judgeship hoping to help develop the tribal jurisprudence. I am taking baby steps toward this career. I have been advised, culturally-speaking, that as a young person, I should not be at the forefront of Navajo leadership. Although I went to school at an Ivy League and at ASU, I respect my elders and culture. I can speak my language, but for now, baby steps. The ILP definitely had a part in my decision to become a judge. Judging for the [26th Annual National NALSA] moot court [hosted at ASU Law in 2018] helped me change my perspective from the attorney’s table to a view from the bench.  I think the moot court is valuable in terms of building your skills and seeing how other judges decide their cases. I have served as a commissioner at the Navajo Nation and this moot court experience is paying off there too.

Sean Cahill: The ILP, and specifically the Indian Law Clinic, introduced me to tribal courts and showed me their importance in tribal government. I sit on the Appellate Court of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa, where I am enrolled. When a justice position opened up in 2015, I had been working in-house for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The Justice position presented an opportunity to serve my tribe, and it has truly been an honor to sit on my tribe’s court.

Joseph Flies-Away: I went to law school where I tried to understand what law is. Law to me became something very spiritual, something that connects us or disconnects us. I started putting the law into my paradigm and then my two dimensional model became spherical, and as I kept working at it, all these different parts—the individual, the group, conflict or cooperation—it all just fit.

Anita Jackson: Initially my cases were limited to cases where children were alleged to have been neglected, abused or were juvenile offenders. I grew up on my reservation so I was aware of the state of the economic and social standings of my tribe, of family ties and interrelations.

I began presiding over cases involving adults toward the end of my first term. Because our reservation was originally exempt from PL 280, the State has very little jurisdiction on the reservation so our court exercises jurisdiction over almost all legal matters. This includes matters involving criminal actions committed by Indians and non-Indians, domestic relations, civil regulatory and adjudicatory cases, probate, traffic, and the exercise off-reservation treaty-reserved rights such as off-reservation hunting and fishing.

The long-time Chief Judge resigned early in my second term and although I applied, I was not selected to fill that position. The new Chief Judge came from North Dakota and I was assigned to “show him the ropes”, which I did. For several reasons he left a couple of years later and I was temporarily appointed as the Chief Judge until the Tribe hired a non-Indian man to replace him; again I was required to bring him up to speed.

Q: What have you learned in your current position that has been different from positions that you’ve previously held?

Shawn Attakai: The perspective of being a lawyer in the courtroom is very different than being a judge.  Lawyerly work requires advocacy on behalf of your client.  You mainly advance only one side of the argument, the side that is beneficial to your client.  Judicial work requires looking at the whole situation, and being impartial and looking at the legal issues from both sides.  Impartiality is probably one of the biggest cornerstones of the adversarial court system.  

Sean Cahill: I work both in-house at Grand Traverse Band and on the court at Little Traverse Bay Bands, so I experience the distinct roles of advisor/advocate and arbiter. Obviously those roles are different, but fulfilling them regularly has shown me just how stark that difference is.

Anita Jackson: Although there was, and still is, no education requirement for our tribal court judges I could see that I would never advance without formal education credentials so I resigned in August 1988 and proceeded to complete my bachelor’s degree and earn a law degree. I earned a Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University in June 1990 and enrolled at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in August 1990. I earned my JD in 1993. I did serve a three-year term as a judge of our Court of Appeals from 1988-1990.

My career plan was to eventually return to my tribe and serve as the Chief Judge. I was appointed Chief Judge in 2005 after working in a variety of other law-related positions with my tribe and served in that position until October 2010.

(Judge Attakai being sworn in)

Q: What advice do you have for students interested in a position as a tribal court judge?

Shawn Attakai: The main advice is to learn your language and culture.  American law schools such as ASU Law produce a lot of lawyers fluent and excelling in Anglo-American law, but we have to remember that we are tribal people.  As the Marshall Trilogy mentions, we Native Nations are “separate and distinct.” We are dependent on that distinction.   If we tribes were not “separate and distinct,” then there would be no “tribe,” no tribal judiciary for us to be tribal judges. So that our great-great-grandchildren can be “tribal” judges, I think it is important today to know your language and culture and to implement that knowledge into your work as a judge.

Sean Cahill:
I lucked into the position in the sense that I am a tribal member who lives fairly close to my rural reservation. That said, I was able to secure the nomination because knowing about the vacancy gave me an opportunity to apply. First, then, pay attention to the tribes in whose court you would like to serve. Some actively recruit candidates, some post widely, and some do not. Second, the key for me to parlay the nomination into an appointment was preparation. Know the tribe’s circumstances and its laws—its constitution, statutes, and customary and common law. Finally, it can’t hurt to have experience in a court. I clerked as an extern for Maricopa County judges during my 3L year, and that experience, along with the bench memos and opinions I wrote, proved invaluable. Finally, it goes without saying: Get the best grades and job experience that you can. Many tribes are balancing the need to have their judges and justices come from their community with the desire to appoint the most qualified and distinguished candidates.

Joseph Flies-Away: Somebody said to me, “It must be exciting being a judge.” I remember looking at that person and saying, “Exciting? It’s awful.” They looked at me, surprised. When you’re a judge, you’re adjudicating all types of cases and you know all the bad things, all the allegations of bad things, which are horrible and sad. And of course, not all of the allegations are true but you have to hear about it all, deal with all the people, and deal with the ones that are hurting. It was never a “fun” experience to be a judge.

The only part that’s “fun” maybe is the legal aspect; figuring out what the law means and how it is applied in a situation. I like to see how the tribal code applies to a case, how legal definitions are applied, what words mean. That, to me, is the interesting part, not whether someone beat up a person or burned down a house or abused a child. There’s no excitement, no happiness, no goodness in that part of it. It’s not a fun job. I don’t think I could ever be a full-time judge again.

Anita Jackson: Tribal courts exercise various types of jurisdiction depending on their land base, whether they are subject to certain federal laws, treaty-reserved rights, water rights, and so forth. It is important, therefore, to know how to balance traditional tribal laws with recent tribal statutory laws, and relevant state and federal laws.

True separation of powers rarely exists in tribal governments and, therefore, tribal councils often try to interfere with tribal courts. It is important to educate tribal council members on the benefits of separation of powers within the tribe to ensure checks and balances on governmental powers exist.

Q: Please share your thoughts about the role of tribal courts in tribal communities.

Shawn Attakai: Tribal courts play a vital role in tribal nations and their communities.  Making decisions using your own tribal law is an exercise of sovereignty.  The act of making decisions as a court goes to the tribe governing itself and its territory.  I cannot stress enough the importance of this function.   

Sean Cahill: From what I’ve seen, tribal courts are deeply embedded in their communities. They play a role in governance and promote healing, in addition to the traditional functions of resolving disputes and meting out justice.

Joseph Flies-Away: It’s important for all sovereigns, states, as well as tribes, for people to work together. They have to learn to do that. They need to work together because there are a lot of overlapping issues and situations that require them to do so. It’s very important to collaborate, but there are limitations to it. If people aren’t able to respect each other, then they shouldn’t work together too closely, because I’ve been in situations where you could tell, there was no respect for the other—mostly Anglos toward the Indians, though it happens vice versa as well. We may be different, look different, and do things differently, but we can’t participate in cooperative measures if there’s no respect. There are many people out there who still don’t trust the other people. They say right out, “Well, we can’t trust Arizona; they’re going to act like this, or we can’t trust the judge in Mojave County or whatever.” Over time, I think, as more respect is built, a better collaborative scenario would be available. Both systems would benefit from understanding that, “Wow! They’re doing something differently, we should try that,” or “Their technology is this way, we should try that.” There are things to learn from each other in a very good way.

Anita Jackson: Tribal courts have a very important place in tribal government. They generally began as criminal courts but have grown and expanded over the past fifty or so years to provide resolution of person-person conflicts as well as non-criminal person-tribe conflicts. As tribal courts expand they are challenged by not only tribal leaders but also non-tribal governments and people. The integrity of tribal judges is often questioned so it is very important to have the courage to stand firm on principles and law.

There is nothing more satisfying than working for your own tribe and at the same time, there is nothing harder or more taxing. Do not expect positive changes that you make as a tribal judge to be immediate nor initially appreciated. You must have courage, a strong backbone, thick skin and keep a long-view of justice in your own community.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Shawn Attakai: I hope that in the future, I mean way in the future, that we maintain our cultural identities as tribal nations.  We put in a crazy amount of effort in taking the LSAT, passing 1L, passing the bar, and succeeding in this society as lawyers.  We can put that same energy into learning and re-vitalizing our languages and traditions.  I believe our effectiveness as tribal legal practitioners would multi-fold, especially for the younger generations, if we could all do that.

Note: Quotes included from the Center for Court Innovation’s interview with Flies-Away. Read the interview here.

Read the first part of the Alumni Tribal Court – Experience and Advice series here.

Job Opportunity – Deputy Chief Prosecutor

Navajo Nation
Office of the Prosecutor
Window Rock, AZ

Requisition No: DOJ01017394
Closing Date: 4/30/19 (5 p.m.)

Duties and Responsibilities:
Under administrative direction of the Chief Prosecutor, provides administrative and managerial support to the Chief Prosecutor and the Offices of the Prosecutor. Fully participates and shares in the overall management of the administrative office and district offices and exercises full prosecutorial authority; supervises provisional staff. Assures that the success of specific functions are consistent with program plans and objectives by monitoring and evaluating program progress. Makes recommendations with the Chief Prosecutor in changing program plans, goals, work plans, schedules, procedures, and etc. as necessary; assists with the development and implementation of policies, procedures and budgetary functions. Accomplishes functions through supervisors and prosecutors at the administrative and district offices. Coordinates all central administrative office activities with various governmental agencies engaged in the investigation and prosecution of criminal and civil matter related issues.

Provides technical guidance to administrative and district staff and related law enforcement agencies, government, and state agencies. Assist in research and gathering of physical evidence with law enforcement and related agencies. Review and assign cases to supervisors and/or Senior Prosecutors. Determine importance of case(s) warranting prosecution. Assist prosecutorial staff in the development of case plans, calendaring, strategies, evidence, and other investigative matters of significant importance. Attends arraignments and brings cases before the courts of law within the purview of the Navajo Nation. Represents the office and serves on various committees, organizations, state and federal agencies. Maintain effective work relationships with officials from all levels of government and the general public. Address oversight committee on related prosecutorial administrative matters. Assist and provide recommendations on annual budgetary functions and reporting. Address personnel matters in colorization with the Chief Prosecutor. Serves at the Pleasure of the Chief Prosecutor.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A juris Doctorate; and eight (8) years professional experience as a state licensed attorney with progressive experience as a trial lawyer in criminal/civil law, administrative law, employment or related fields; two (2) years of which must have been managing and supervising a law office (private or government legal department). Current admission to any state bar with the intention of seeking and securing admission to the Navajo Nation Bar Association and either the Arizona, New Mexico or Utah State Bar within one year of date of hire.

Special Requirements:

  • Depending upon the needs of the Nation, some incumbents of the class may be required to demonstrate fluency in both the Navajo and English languages as a condition of employment.

Special Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
Knowledgeable in Navajo Nation Laws and applicable state and federal statutes, rules, and regulations; Federal Indian Law, prosecution, juvenile justice and white collar crime; principles of management, administration, supervision, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.; principles and practices of methods of legal research, principles of criminal law and appeal procedures related to violations of Navajo Nation laws and applicable state and federal statues, rules and regulation; court processes, administrative law processes and legal terminology; legal strategies, their development and presentation and supervisory methods and techniques. Skilled in legal research, effectively assessing, interpreting and applying complex laws; assessing analyzing and assessing financial and other records to make recommendations and decision on prosecution; in communicating effectively and overseeing the effective prosecution of violation of Tribal law; in establishing and maintaining an effective and cooperative working relationship with numerous officials of the Navajo Nation, attorneys, litigants, witnesses, interested parties and others; and in operating a personal computer utilizing a variety of software, programs, applications, and software.

For full job description, click here.
For job listing, click here.

Job Opportunity – Attorney

Navajo Nation
Office of the Prosecutor
Kayenta, AZ

Closing Date: 5/30/19 (5 p.m.)
Requisition No: DOJ01017514

Duties and Responsibilities:
Under supervision of the Chief Prosecutor/Deputy Chief Prosecutor represents the interest of the Navajo Nation government. Provides and assists several district prosecutor offices in prosecution of criminal and civil cases representing the interests of the Navajo Nation government. Will attend arraignments, as needed; trials, adjudications, child dependency adjudications, motion hearings, sentencing/disposition hearings, pretrial conferences, preliminary hearings, and other related issues to court attendance; prepares all required legal documents; reviews investigative reports, legal pleadings from defense counsel, law enforcement reports and related documents; determines nature of the criminal offense; establishes case plan with law enforcement personnel from various governmental agencies on most serious criminal offenses such as vehicular homicide, sexual assault, aggravated batteries, child neglect or spousal abuse, etc.; assigns case plans; provides legal guidance and advice to law enforcement personnel in proceeding with investigation; prepares and obtains search warrants as necessary, conducts follow ups on cases and elements of cases, conducts legal research, review criminal complaints, interview witnesses, included but not limited to other legal matters.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • A Juris Doctorate in Law.
  • Current admission in any state bar with the intention of seeking and securing admission to the Navajo Nation Bar Association and either the Arizona, New Mexico, or Utah State Bar within one (1) year of date of hire.

Special Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:
Knowledgeable in Navajo Nation Laws and applicable state and federal statutes, rules, and regulations; Federal Indian Law, prosecution, juvenile justice and white collar crime; principles of management, administration, supervision, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.; principles and practices of methods of legal research, principles of criminal law and appeal procedures related to violations of Navajo Nation laws and applicable state and federal statues, rules and regulation; court processes, administrative law processes and legal terminology; legal strategies, their development and presentation and supervisory methods and techniques. Skilled in legal research, effectively assessing, interpreting and applying complex laws; assessing analyzing and assessing financial and other records to make recommendations and decision on prosecution; in communicating effectively and overseeing the effective prosecution of violation of Tribal law; in establishing and maintaining an effective and cooperative working relationship with numerous officials of the Navajo Nation, attorneys, litigants, witnesses, interested parties and others; and in operating a personal computer utilizing a variety of software, programs, applications, and software.

For full job description, click here.
For job listing, click here.

April Olson (JD ’06) Lunch Lecture – Recording

Guest speaker and ILP alum, April Olson (’06) gave an insightful lecture, “A Story from the Standing Rock protest: Prosecution and defense of a water protector.”

In 2016, the fight for clean water and the indigenous led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) caught the attention of the world. At the heart of the movement, was opposition to the DAPL, a pipeline projected to run close to the Standing Rock Reservation that threatened its clean water and sacred sites. No-DAPL demonstrators drew the ire of officials and law enforcement and numerous individuals engaging in peaceful protests were arrested and prosecuted for serious crimes in state and federal courts. This presentation talked about one of the many stories from Standing Rock and will follow the prosecution of one water protector from his arrest to his challenge before the North Dakota Supreme Court. Please see Corrected Opinion in North Dakota Supreme Court No. 20180171 (State v. Herbert) if you want to read more about the case.

To listen to recording, click here.

Job Opportunity – Judicial Clerk

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court

Description of position:
Under the supervision of the Chief Judge, the Law Clerk is required to:

  • Conduct legal research on relevant statutes and cases; analyze legal issues presented by administrative records; communicate findings of research to tribal court judges either orally or by succinct memoranda.
  • Review legal pleadings, motions, briefs, transcripts, and recordings.
  • Draft memoranda of decision and orders for pending Tribal Court cases.
  • Attend hearings as requested by the tribal judges.
  • Prepare special projects such as editing decisions for publication and developing proposed amendments to Mashantucket Rules of Civil Procedure.

The annual salary is $50,000 plus benefits. 

To apply:

  1. Submit a cover letter addressed to “Chief Judge,” resume, law school transcript (official or unofficial), a brief legal writing sample, and a list of 2-3 references.  Letters of recommendation are preferred, but not required.  Transcripts and letters of recommendation may be included in the application packet or sent under separate cover.  Applications are accepted via U.S. mail and/or e-mail.
  2. Additionally, applicants must submit an online application via   Click the Apply Now link, select Tribal Government and search for key words “law clerk.”

Applicants will be considered on such criteria as academic standing, law review or journal experience, moot court, other significant research or writing experience in the field of Native American law, prior employment, and faculty, employer or personal recommendations.

Application Method(s)

Alumni Advice – Udall Alumni

AThe Indian Legal Program is always looking to expand our ILP family’s opportunities to network and gain experience in the legal profession. By networking with the Udall Foundation, we can show students more opportunities to participate in Indian Law programs across the country. Alumni Chia Halpern Beetso (’08), Julian Nava (’10) Jacqueline Bisille (MLS ’14), all completed the Udall Internship, along with current students Cynthia Freeman (2L), Christina Andrews (3L) and DesiRae Deschine (3L). The ILP asked these six Udall Alumni to share some advice to current or future students through their experience participating in the Udall Summer Internship Program.

“After completing my undergraduate degree, I was accepted into the Udall Foundation Congressional Native American Internship Program,” Sarah Crawford (3L) said. “This opportunity gave me my first hard look at the legislation and policy at play… The Udall Foundation also provided additional opportunities to visit and learn from a variety of agencies, law firms, and organizations that focus on Indian Country policies. The Program also provides housing and travel expenses which greatly reduced the burdens that prevents many Native individuals from pursuing a summer internship in Washington, D.C.”

Q: When did you intern at Udall and why did you apply?

Chia Halpern Beetso: “I participated in the Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship during the summer of 2007. I applied because I always wanted to intern in a U.S. Congressional office and heard so many great things about the program. I also had friends who really enjoyed their experiences while participating in the Udall Internship as well.”

Julian Nava: “I was a Congressional Intern through the Udall program in the summer of 2006. I applied because I wanted an insider’s view of our Nation’s federal government i.e. how policies & laws are formed and money is appropriated, especially as it applies to tribal governments and tribal programs. I was also very interested in the history of U.S. laws and policies directly aimed at American Indian tribes, so I thought, what better place to learn about that dynamic (past, present, future) than at the center of U.S. law and policy.”

Cynthia Freeman: “I was a Udall intern in 2006. I applied because the Udall internship program provided a unique opportunity for me to work in Congress and to learn more about tribal laws and policies.”

Jacqueline Bisille: “I interned during the summer of 2014 in the late Senator John McCain’s office. While living in Arizona, I interned with various organizations and a local government on issues that affected Arizona Tribes. While I enjoyed my time with those offices, I never had the chance to work on policy issues that involved the Federal government and Indian Tribes. When I heard about the Udall Internship in D.C., I knew it was an opportunity to not pass up so I prepared my application, sent it in, and waited for the Foundation’s decision.”

Christina Andrews: “I interned summer 2017. I interned at Udall because I wanted to learn about the United States’ legislative process and its impact in Indian Country. I wanted to know if I had a place at the U.S. government area. I applied because of the prestige of being a Udall Intern and the doors it would open up for me.”

DesiRae Deschine: “In 2017, I was a 1L when I was selected for the Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship. I wanted the legal work experience within a federal agency and to gain an inside look at the regulatory process of federal Indian law. In addition, I wanted to be a Udall Intern so that I could live and experience Washington D.C. with a cohort of other Native American students.”

Q: What was the experience like and what was the most valuable thing you learned?

Chia Halpern Beetso: “I had the best summer. I was in the office of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was able to help plan and attend committee hearings. I got to see first-hand how legislation is drafted and passed. I was also fortunate enough to work on an issue that my own tribe needed assistance with. The most valuable thing I learned was to take the initiative to pursue my professional goals.”

Julian Nava: “I had a wonderful experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. The most valuable lessons that I learned during my internship was how important relationship building is, including, building relationships with those people who agree and understand your views and interests as well as those people who do not. Your ability to communicate and be inquisitive is vital to a successful experience.”

Jacqueline Bisille: “The experience was unforgettable because it gave me the opportunity to learn more about a career that I wanted to work in. I’d say the most valuable thing I learned was how Congress moves legislation through both chambers. The process is fascinating and continues to challenge me in unique ways each day while working for the SCIA.”

Cynthia Freeman: “The experience was rewarding; it provided me with numerous opportunities to network with tribal leaders and tribal advocates, meet Congressional leaders, and forge lifetime friendships. The most valuable thing I learned was the importance of having tribal representation within Congress, both at the leadership and staff levels.”

Christina Andrews: “The experience was more than I could have ever imagined. I was able to see the place where the Nation’s decisions were made. I learned about how law is made and passed; toured the White House and legislative buildings; helped create a bill and walk it through the process for consideration at the floor; I met many people who are advocating for Indian issues; I learned about being a leader and advocate for Indian Country; and finally, I built a lifelong cohort with other Udallers.  We still remain connected.”

DesiRae Deschine: “Interning with the Department of the Interior as a Native American Congressional Intern was invaluable. I received great mentorship and substantive legal work assignments from my internship placement. In addition to the work experience, I was exposed to other federal agencies, congressional offices, and non-profit organizations that share similar goals related to Native American communities and Tribes. Through this experience I strengthened my legal writing skills and as a result felt capable and ready to spend a full-semester in Washington, D.C. as a 3L with the D.C. Externship Program through the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.”

Q: Would you recommend this program to other students? If so why?

Chia Halpern Beetso: “I would definitely recommend this program to current students. It is a great chance to have a paid internship in Washington DC which isn’t always an option for many people. You often get to work on Native issues and have opportunities to attend hearings, meetings and receptions with various leaders in Washington DC. It can lead to job opportunities and truly is a learning experience.”

Julian Nava: “I would absolutely recommend this program because this program gives a hands-on experience that will hopefully provide students with a better understanding of how law and policy is formed, how the system works in real time and how they can eventually be a part of that system and/or change.”

Jacqueline Bisille: “I definitely would recommend the internship program to any ILP student thinking about working on tribal issues. In some way or another, a tribal government will likely have to work with Congress or the Administration and it’s good to have an idea of what goes on in DC.”

Cynthia Freeman: “Yes, I highly recommend this program to any student who is interested in learning about federal Indian policy and would like to work in Washington, D.C. As a participant, you will gain valuable insight into the legislative process as it pertains to tribal nations.”

Christina Andrews: “I was intimidated about DC, but now after going through the program, I have more confidence having spent the summer at DC. Also, this program challenged myself as an older student that I still have a lot to contribute, and I plan to do just that.”

DesiRae Deschine: “I absolutely recommend the Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship program to students that are interested in learning more about the government-to-government relationship between Tribes and the federal government and working for a congressional office or a federal agency in Washington, D.C. Being a Native American Congressional Intern was a unique experience and through the program I gained access to a network of Native American professionals who are contributing to strengthening Indian Country. Furthermore, I recommend the Native American Congressional Internship program because of the support that the Udall Foundation provides to each student that makes living and working in Washington, D.C. possible.”

Cynthia Freeman (left) in 2006 and DesiRae Deschine and Christina Andrews (right) in 2018

Q: For students who want to apply, what advice would you give them?

Chia Halpern Beetso: “I would advise students to review their essays a couple times prior to submitting the application. Also, to clearly explain why this experience will benefit them in their goal of working on tribal policy and make the connection as to why this internship is the next logical step in their trajectory.”

Jacqueline Bisille: “My advice for students considering in applying is to not procrastinate on your application. I’ve heard that the review committee can tell what applications were lazily put together from others that include well written essays. My last bit of advice for any student considering the internship program would be to go, if accepted, because they will be sharing these experiences with 11 other Native students, and have memories for a lifetime. A few of the Udall interns in my class live in DC and have become some of my closest friends. A bit cheesy, I know, but also one of the best things about the program and why I’m happy to have done it.”

Julian Nava: “Be inquisitive, ask questions (1,000 + perhaps), be involved, explore, be willing to learn, sightsee, be adventurous, network and tell your story.  People are very interested in your story. Tell it.”

Cynthia Freeman: “If you are considering applying, then it is very important that you have someone (a professor or mentor) review your application materials. I highly recommend talking with the Udall program or alumni, if you have any questions about the internship program or the application process.”

Christina Andrews: “For students who what to apply, I would advise them to take the application serious. Make sure you give well thought out answers; dig deep for your answers; don’t feel intimidated; and ask questions. Make sure to reach out to others who have gone through the program for help.”

DesiRae Deschine: “Students interested in the Native American Congressional Internship should reach out to alumni of the internship program and the Program Manager to learn more about the program and to receive individualized advice about the application process. Students should also work on their application ahead of time, research the contributions of Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall to Indian Country, and seek out critical feedback on their essay.”

Find out more information about the Udall Foundation’s internships here.

Photos provided by students & alumni.

2019 ILP Alumni Awards – Call for Nominations

The ILP alumni awards are now open. Nominate your classmates and friends! The ILP Awards include Professional Achievement, Alumni Service Award, and Emerging Leader Award. Nominations are due February 18, 2019! Nomination materials should be sent by email to: Awards will be presented at the ILP alumni reception at Fed Bar on April 11th at Sandia Resort & Casino.

Nomination Guidelines

ILP Professional Achievement Award – This award recognizes outstanding achievement in Indian Law or Tribal Law throughout an individual’s career. The award honors ILP alumni whose achievements in the field of Indian Law or Tribal Law have brought distinction to themselves and real benefit to the Indian community. Nomination Package Requirements:

  • Describe the unique professional achievements in the field of Indian Law or Tribal Law that has brought distinction to the candidate. (maximum two pages)
  • Describe the recognized contributions made by this candidate that demonstrate a benefit to the larger community. (maximum one page)
  • Describe the ways in which the candidate’s achievements are truly extraordinary or exceptional. (maximum one page)
  • Provide at least two letters of support from individuals that can speak to the candidate’s impact on his or her profession.
  • Letters of support should speak to the magnitude of the individual’s impact in the practice of Indian or tribal law or in the Indian community.
  • Provide a 200 word bio of the nominee.
  • Past winners include: Kathy Bowman (’86), Rob Rosette (’96), Diane Enos (’92), Ben Hanley (’71), Herb Yazzie (’75).

ILP Alumni Service Award – This award is given for outstanding service to the Indian Legal Program, and is awarded for extended, extraordinary service to the Indian Legal Program. Nomination Package Requirements

  • Describe the ways in which the candidate has served or supported the ILP and the ILP alumni. Examples can include serving on committees, boards, CLEs, mentoring ILP students, or other volunteer or fundraising efforts or funding commitments. (maximum one page)
  • Describe the ways this service been truly extraordinary. (maximum one page)
  • Describe how the candidate’s service has benefited the ILP. (maximum one page)
  • Please provide at least two letters of support from ILP alumni as part of the nomination package.
  • Provide a 200 word bio of the nominee.
  • Past winners include: Ann Marie Downes (’94), Mary Shirley (’92) and Jeff Harmon (’05)

ILP Emerging Leader Award – This award acknowledges and encourages service to Indian Country and the ILP by alumni who are less than ten years out of law school. The award recognizes outstanding achievements in their professional career, volunteer work, and promotion or support of the ILP and/or ASU NALSA. Nomination Package Requirements.

  • Describe how the candidate has achieved professional success in their legal career.
  • Describe the candidate’s volunteer work.
  • Describe how the candidate achieved an exceptional level of service while balancing the demands of being a recent graduate. (maximum one page)
  • Describe how the candidate was proactive in efforts to become involved in ILP and/or ILP alumni activities. (maximum one page)
  • Describe how the candidate’s service has been sustained over a long period of time or how the service has been innovative or beneficial. (maximum one page)
  • Provide two letters of support from fellow ILP alumni.
  • Provide a 200 word bio of the nominee.
  • Past winners include: Steve Bodmer (’06), Elizabeth Medicine Crow (’05), Charles Galbraith (’07), Matthew Campbell (’08) and Michael Corey Hinton (’11)