Pechanga Band Wills Clinic

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Indian Legal Clinic partnered with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Leadership and the California Indian Legal Services on Sept. 23 and 24 in an extremely successful Indian Wills Clinic for the members of the Pechanga Band. At the event, free legal services were offered to members of the Band who wished to create wills for bequeathing their allotments. The Pechanga Indian Reservation includes a mix of trust lands, fee lands and lands owned by the Band, individual Indians and non-Indians.

Eleven members of the Band met with three Indian Legal Clinic students on the first day of the Clinic to discuss their estate planning needs. The students then drafted an Indian will that was ready for execution on the following day for each of the individuals. Jennifer Parisien, Tribal Treasurer Department Financial Analyst, coordinated the event while Michele Fahley, Deputy General Counsel for the Band, and Mica Llerandi, staff attorney with California Indian Legal Services, supervised the student attorneys.

“Ensuring tribal members have access to legal services in preparing Indian wills has been a long-term priority for my office,” said Steve Bodmer, JD ’06, the Band’s General Counsel. “When our Tribal Secretary and Tribal Treasurer reached out to me regarding adding wills to the Pechanga financial education series, my thoughts turned immediately to the Indian Legal Program as a possible resource to make this project a success.”

Robyn Delfino, Pechanga Band Tribal Treasurer, explained that the Wills Clinic was part of a larger initiative sponsored by the Tribal Treasury Department and Tribal Leadership with an aim of assisting members by providing education about financial management and legal tools for planning for the future.

“The amazing work that was performed in the Wills Clinic is evidenced in the reaction of the Band’s membership,” said Bodmer.

“The feedback from members was extremely positive,” added Delfino, “which resulted in multiple tribal members contacting us to ask when the next clinic would be held. The partnership between the Tribal Leadership, California Indian Legal Services, and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law’s Indian Legal Clinic was a win-win situation where tribal members gained very valuable services while students gained very valuable educational experiences.”

The students involved in the Wills Clinic were universal in their appreciation for the learning opportunities the program provided.

“I am thankful for the rewarding and humbling experience of working with clients to prepare their wills from start to finish,” shared Cynthia Freeman, JD candidate ’20, “I am grateful for the first-hand practical experience, which is a great contribution to my overall legal education.”

Cora Tso, JD candidate ’20, said “creating a will is a proactive step for members to take to protect their families for generations to come. It was an amazing experience to be able to help them with their endeavors.”

Shayla Bowles, JD candidate ’20, was happy for the experience in counseling clients.

“From a practical standpoint, I learned how to conduct an interview while acknowledging the very sensitive and personal nature of estate planning,” said Bowles. “Because drafting Indian wills is a specialty, I feel blessed to have this knowledge to apply in my legal future.”

“The students did a tremendous job of building the clients’ trust in the limited amount of time available to them,” said Helen Burtis, JD ’07, the faculty associate overseeing the students’ participation in the Wills Clinic. They prepared for the Wills Clinic by learning about fractionalization of allotments and the American Indian Probate Reform Act.

“Drafting Indian Wills is technically complex, and the students were dedicated to getting the clients’ estate planning wishes accurately incorporated into the documents,” Burtis added. “On behalf of the Indian Legal Clinic and the Indian Legal Program, I would like to thank Pechanga Tribal Leadership and staff as well as the members who agreed to work with students for letting our students take part in this valuable program.”

Happy #NationalVoterRegistrationDay!

Happy #NationalVoterRegistrationDay! Have you registered yet? Here’s a #throwback to when Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and the ILC helped Agnes Laughter, a Navajo elder become a registered voter in 2008. “All of my heartache has changed as of this day,” said Laughter, who was 77 at the time. “I have an identity now. My thumbprint will stand. I feel fulfilled.” 💛 Register today to be #VoteReady

Ferguson-Bohnee receives national appointments from Lawyers’ Committee, ABA

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Faculty Director of the Indian Legal Program, was recentlyappointed National Commissioner for the Commission on Voting Rights by the organization Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under the Law.

According to the Lawyers’ Committee, the Voting Rights Commission is dedicated to the struggle to achieve equality and protect advances in voting rights for racial and ethnic minorities and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.

Ferguson-Bohnee was also recently appointed by the American Bar Association (ABA) to the Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice and named Vice Chair of the ABA’s Committee on Native American Concerns of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section.

Ferguson-Bohnee has substantial experience in Indian law, election law and policy matters, voting rights, and status clarification of tribes. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and has represented tribal clients in administrative state, federal, and tribal courts, as well as before state and local governing bodies.


Students from the Indian Legal Clinic file Amicus Brief in The Supreme Court of the United States

Students in the Indian Legal Clinic were afforded a rare opportunity to apply their legal
knowledge in a case involving the Indian Child Welfare Act pending before the
United States Supreme Court.  Indian Legal Clinic students Stephanie Whisnant, Stephanie Skogan, Brittney Burback, Michael Mainwold, Fernando Anzaldua, Kristin McPhie, Miguel Zarate, and Lily Yan, prepared the Brief of Amicus Curiae The National Native American Bar Association Supporting Affirmance under the supervision of Professors Robert Clinton and Patty Ferguson-Bohnee.  The Court will hear oral
arguments in the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a minor child under the
age of 14, No. 12-399, on April 16.

To see brief click here: NNABA+Amicus

Can International Law Support Changes to Federal Indian Policy? Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Conference

April 19, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University
Great Hall, Armstrong Hall, 1100 S. McAllister Avenue, Tempe, AZ  85287
Free and Open to the Public – Registration requested.

Keynote Speaker:  S. James Anaya, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Agenda and registration online at:
Contact:  Darlene Lester / / 480-965-7715
Sponsored by the Indian Legal Program & the Center for Law and Global Affairs at ASU
CLE Registration $150.00 is available for Attorneys seeking  CLE credits.
CLE Credits: 5 CLE Credits for AZ & CA, 5.5  MCLE credits for NM
Live Web-streaming at:

Please Join Us!  Please help us spread the word about this important conference . 



Distinguished professor and executive director hired for Indian Legal Program

Distinguished professor and executive director hired for Indian Legal Program

Robert Miller
Gregory Hill
Douglas Sylvester

The College of Law has hired Robert J. Miller, one of the nation’s leading scholars in Indian Law, and Gregory L. Hill, who will serve as Executive Director of the Indian Legal Program.

“We consider our Indian Legal Program the nation’s leading organization devoted to improving the legal systems that affect tribal governments,” said Dean Douglas Sylvester. “The addition of Bob and Greg underscores our commitment not only to providing unique opportunities and experiences to students that relate to Indian law, but also to furthering the Program’s other key objectives, including maintaining and expanding our close relationships with American Indian nations and other native governments and organizations.”

Miller will join the faculty in the fall of 2013. As a professor at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., since 1999, Miller has taught various courses, including Federal Indian Law, American Indians and International Law and Civil Procedure.

He worked at the Stoel Rives law firm from 1992-1995 and practiced Indian law with Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker from 1995-1999. An enrolled citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Miller is Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of the Grand Ronde Tribe and sits as a judge for other tribes.

He is the author of two books, “Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Manifest Destiny” and “Reservation Capitalism: Economic Development in Indian Country.” He is also co-author of “Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies.”

“I am very excited about joining the College of Law and its outstanding Indian Legal Program,” Miller said. “I am looking forward to working with the ASU students, faculty and staff and to enjoying many rewarding intellectual and professional experiences at the College.”

Hill, a practicing attorney for 18 years, has held various leadership positions in the legal profession since 1995. A member of the Oneida Nation, Six Nations of Indians, he most recently served as a capital attorney in the Office of the Public Defender in Tampa, Fla., where he provided legal services to indigent clients.

He is a former deputy director of Stetson University College of Law’s National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law. Additionally, Hill served as Assistant Attorney General in the state of Florida, ran a solo legal practice earlier in his career, and clerked for the general counsel of the Seneca Nation while in law school.

“I am honored to be selected to serve as the executive director of the Indian Legal Program,” Hill said. “The chance to contribute to such a distinguished program, to help our students become better prepared for the future they will encounter, and to directly support the Indian communities will create opportunities that I am eager to pursue.”

The Indian Legal Program was established in 1988 to provide legal education and generate scholarship in the area of Indian law and to undertake public service to tribal governments. It trains students to effectively engage the representation of Native peoples and seeks to promote an understanding of the differences between the legal systems of Indian nations and those of the state and federal governments. The Program is among the most renowned of its kind, and its graduates work at all levels of tribal, state and federal government, as well as in private practice. The Program provides a unique set of academic and clinical opportunities for students and is committed to maintaining strong partnerships with American Indian nations and other native governments and organizations.

Lunch Lecture – George Skibine

 “Perspective from 35 Years of Federal Service for Native Americans at the Department of the Interior”

George T. Skibine
Counsel, SNR Denton, 
Washington, D.C.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Time:   12:15 p.m.
Place:   Armstrong Hall, College of Law, Room 114
Lunch will be provided so your RSVP is greatly appreciated!
RSVP/Contact:  Kathy Tevis 480-965-2922 or
Click here to download flyer!

NEWSLETTER – Indian Legal Clinic

Hey everyone! Check out the Indian Legal Clinic newsletter covering Spring ’08 – Spring ’09 semesters. It’s on the Clinic’s webpage – go to, then Clinical Program, then Indian Legal Clinic.

If you have any suggestions about the newsletter, or would like to be added to our mailing list for future newsletters, just let me, Jen Williams, know. My email is and phone number is 480-727-0420.