ASU Navajo Nation Law CLE: Call for Presentations

The Indian Legal Program at ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is proud to host the 2019 Navajo Nation Law CLE Conference on Friday, October 25, 2019.

The Navajo Nation Law CLE Conference will offer a one day survey of Navajo law and ethics. This conference is ideal training for attorneys practicing on and near the Navajo Nation, tribal court advocates, tribal court practitioners, tribal court prosecutors, tribal court defenders, tribal council members, Indian law attorneys, tribal liaisons, government legislators, Navajo Nation Bar members, law students, as well as teachers/professors and students of American Indian studies.

The Conference Planning Committee welcomes proposals for 30-minute, 60-minute or 90-minute conference presentations or panel discussions. To submit a presentation proposal, please send the following information by June 17, 2019:

  • Presenter(s) name, title, contact information, bio
  • Title of the proposed presentation
  • A brief (one paragraph) description of the presentation, how the presentation relates to Navajo Law, and a description of the presentation format (example: lecture with Q&A, panel discussion, etc.)
  • A brief description of what will be or could be distributed to attendees as materials
  • A two-sentence summary of the presentation for the conference program, if accepted
  • Length of presentation
  • Would this session qualify for Navajo Ethics?

Participants will be notified of their selection by July 22, 2019.

Please submit your abstract here: Subject: Navajo Law CLE Proposal

ILP Professors & their Tribal Ties

We are so much stronger when we know effective work is being done so close to home and our ILP faculty are truly instrumental in their work and with their tribes.

Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee (Pointe-au-Chien) has been advocating for her tribe to be federally recognized for years. 

Beside the 573 federally recognized tribes, Pointe-au-Chien is one of the nearly 300 who have not been permitted that status according to federal criteria. Federal recognition allows for self-government and other permits that are restricted from federally unrecognized tribes.

Ferguson-Bohnee is featured in an MSNBC video that discusses the need for tribal recognition, which Pointe-au-Chien has been pursuing for over 20 years. Watch the full video here.

In The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma: Resilience through Adversity, Professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee) wrote the chapter, “Tribal, Federal, and State Laws Impacting the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, 1812 to 1945,” in which he discussed the legal and constitutional history of his tribe. 

Despite the distinct laws that separated the Eastern Shawnee Tribe into at least five separate nations in the 18th century, the Mixed Band of Senecas and Shawnees “operated under established governmental leaders, laws, governing mechanisms and traditional practices” in the early 19th century. 

While going through the history when the U.S. government began to take over, Miller notes every important legal development and act made by the tribal governments and the federal government that has been recorded.

“The Eastern Shawnee Tribe has governed itself and its people since time immemorial,” Miller said in his chapter. “The Eastern Shawnee people are citizens of three political entities: the United States, the states in which they are domiciled and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe. The Eastern Shawnee nation continues today to exercise its inherent sovereign powers and to govern its territory, its citizens and all who enter its jurisdiction.”

Professor Trevor Reed (Hopi) has conducted extensive research about his tribe’s struggle to reclaim culture from museums, archives, universities, government institutions, and more.
In his upcoming publication Reclaiming Ownership of the Indigenous Voice: The Hopi Music Repatriation Project in the Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation, Reed discusses his efforts to reclaim Hopi ceremonial song recordings and their associated intellectual property rights back to the Hopi Tribe.

In his repatriation work, he poses the following questions: “is repatriation best conceived through an appeal to property principles, or are there other principles of ownership and circulation on which repatriation might be more effectively based? And, if Indigenous principles should be the basis for the ownership and circulation of the archived Indigenous voice, to what extent should repatriating institutions be engaged in Indigenous “community politics” as part of their repatriation efforts?” More on this publication will be coming soon.

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
Marlene Jones Ray (’97) is a business manager and philanthropist.

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.

Kris Beecher (2L) is a current student pursuing his MBA and JD degrees,

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.

Native American Pipeline to Law Workshop at UC Berkeley: Still Accepting Applications

This is a great opportunity for students to learn about law school, admissions criteria, LSAT prep, and more. Registration is free, food and lodging is provided, and a limited number of LSAT Prep courses will be available for participating students. It does not matter which school the student wishes to attend: these sessions are geared to help all students. 

Date: June 26-30, 2019
Location: UC Berkeley School of Law
                 Boalt Hall, 225 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720 (map)
For more information, visit:
Deadline: May 1, 2019
Questions? Contact Kate Rosier at 480-965-6204

Read about current law students who completed one of the Pipeline to Law Workshops and highly encourage others to register and participate. Read their stories.

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.

Student Reflection – Pipeline to Law Initiative

With this summer’s Pipeline to Law Workshop quickly approaching, the ILP reached out to previous attendees of the program for their advice and opinions of the workshop. If their testimonials interest you, apply here.

Five current Indian Legal Program 2L students, Kris Beecher (Navajo), Candace Begody (Navajo), Janet Bill (Chukchansi), Brian Garcia (Pascua Yaqui), and Irvin Williams (Navajo), give their reflections on their experience on the Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative. Incoming ILP 1L, Allison Gloss also shared her experience.

Kris Beecher: “One of the most beneficial things I did to get ready to apply for law school was attend the Pipeline to Law workshop. With no one in my family ever having been to law school, I had to look to outside resources to get the facts on applying. All the facts and more were made available to me, and the mentorship and advice from lawyers, law school students, and faculty were crucial in applying and being accepted to law school. By attending the Pipeline to Law workshop my LSAT score was better, my personal statement was stronger, and my application to my dream school was the best that it could be. I would recommend any Native American students interested in pursuing their dream of going to law school to take the time to get the facts and support, and attend the Pipeline to Law workshop.”

Candace Begody: “The Pipeline to Law Program helped me to plan out a timeline that worked for me that would increase my chances of getting into a law school. I sat down with people who sat on admissions teams who have me advice on how to make my application stronger but also gave me insight into what schools were looking for to make me a stronger candidate. The program was truly instrumental in my law school admissions process – they made it realistic and worked with me to make it a smooth process.”

Janet Bill: “My experience with the Native American Pipeline to Law program was beyond my expectations. I would not have been able to navigate the law school application process without this program. I was able to create a more competitive application and get accepted to the law school of my choice.”



Brian Garcia: “The pipeline program established the essential critical foundation to be considered a viable Native law school applicant. The program helped empower and truly prepare me for the realities of the process.”




Irvin Williams: “I participated in the workshop that was held at Michigan State University in the fall of 2016. I appreciated the program paying for my room. I also enjoyed meeting other law school applicants since we were all in the same boat.

I found value in the Indian professors talking about Indian Law and the participants being able to ask them questions about anything. A summary on the application process was informative. A quick strategy on LSAT taking was insightful. Overall, the program kept me motivated on my Law School endeavor.

Take it sooner rather than later, so that you have ample time to prepare your law school application and prep for the LSAT.”

Allison Gloss: “I am so thankful that I was able to participate in the Pipeline to Law program because it made me excited to apply to law school. The program leaders are very approachable and know all of the ins and outs of the law school admissions process. They tell you everything you need to know to get into law school and what to do once you are there, and they are available for questions if you need clarification on anything. I attended the Seattle program and it was fabulous to be able to explore a new city for a week, I even made friends there that I still keep in touch with to this day!”

Additionally, four first year and current students enrolled in other law schools benefited from the Pipeline to Law Workshop. MacArthur L. Stant II (University of New Mexico), Krista Thompson (University of New Mexico), Cassondra Church (Michigan State University) and Grace Carson (University of California, Los Angeles) attended the Pipeline to Law Initiative.

MacArthur L. Stant II: “My experience with the Pipeline to Law Workshop was incredible. My complete experience was so refreshing and meaningful. There were so many positive relationships that I made at the workshop. First, there were the other participants. To meet with so many like-minded Natives Americans who were interested in law school provided me with a support group that continued with me throughout the law school application process. Then the workshop coordinators were true mentors, who not only worked in the law school admission field they were also Native American as well. The atmosphere was a welcoming and cordial one. I had thought about applying to law school for a long time and had serious doubts about it, my PTL Workshop experience was the encouragement and confidence that I needed to realize that I could get into law school.

The information that I found most important about the PTL Workshop was the law school application timeline. Being made aware of the timeline encompassed all of the application parts and how to most effectively approach the law school application process. By using the application timeline that the PTL workshop presented I understood when to take the LSAT, when to get recommendations, when to write a personal statement, and most importantly when to submit an application. The PTL Workshop showed me that using an application timeline would result in my most competitive law school application.

In you are interested in applying to law school, there is nothing I recommend more that attending the PTL Workshop. The PTL Workshop was able to show me what I should do in order for me to have the best chance possible of being accepted into law school. Even though I thought I understood the college admissions process, law school admissions require a different approach. I was unaware of the nature of a law school application and the PTL workshop put me on a track that was clear and accurate to guide me through this complex process. I know that I needed help to create a competitive law school application and the PTL Workshop made law school a real possibility for me. What was so assuring was that the coordinators and presenters were also Native American, and I knew that they had been where I wanted to go, and they wanted to make law school possible for me. I whole heartily recommend and encourage you to attend the PTL Workshop, if you are interested in law school this is the best step you can take.”

Krista Thompson:My experience at the PTL Workshop was intense, but invaluable to my law school admissions process. During the workshop I received amazing feedback that saved me so much time on my personal statement. The workshop also acquainted me with the admissions timeline. I had no idea how much work and timing the process required.

The most important aspect of the PTL was the personal statement workshop. I was able to get feedback from 3 different perspectives, and I saved so much time on editing and figuring out what my schools wanted.

I always recommend interested students to attend the workshop. There are so many aspects to the admissions process, it’s too easy to get behind or lost if you don’t understand your strengths and what law schools are looking for.”

Cassondra Church:I attended the Pipeline to Law Workshop in August 2016 at Michigan State University College of Law a year after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. At this point in my life I had already been accepted the Masters of Social Work (MSW) program at Michigan State University, but was still interested in attending law school. At the time, I thought that I wanted to participate in the dual MSW/JD program, however, I did not fully understand how to navigate the law school admission process. Attending the Pipeline to Law Workshop was a tremendously beneficial opportunity. In the Pipeline to Law Workshop I learned about the law school admission process, what the law school experience was like, how to pay for law school, strategies for doing well on the LSAT, and career opportunities for Native American attorneys. Not only did I gain a plethora of knowledge and skills, but I also had the pleasure of meeting several professors that specialized in Indigenous law and other aspiring Native American Law students. This Workshop helped me realize that law school was attainable and gave me the necessary tools and information needed to begin my law school journey.

The information that I found the most helpful were the presentations on the law school admissions process. The law school admissions process was nothing like I had ever experienced before and was extremely intimidating. When I attended the Pipeline to Law Workshop I understood some of the components of the application process, however I was unsure how they all fit together. The Pipeline to Law Workshop not only helped me understand the process, but it also provided me with other helpful tools such as an admission timeline, tips for writing a competitive personal statement, LSAT practice, and examples of what law school admission representatives were looking for in applications. 


I would highly recommend Pipeline to Law Workshop to anyone interested in law school. This Workshop provided me with several valuable tools and resources that helped me throughout my law school journey. The Pipeline to Law Workshop provided insight on topics ranging from the application process to finding a career as an attorney.”


Grace Carson: “The PTL workshop was a great experience. It was a wonderful opportunity not only to find the resources I needed for the law school application process, but in finding a community of Native students and adults in the same process as I am. It was a great opportunity to find a supportive community in the law school application process.

There was so much useful information given at the workshop, it’s hard to say what was most important. Honestly, without the workshop, I would have been lost about the law school application process. I think the two most helpful parts of the workshop was: 1) The LSAT prep course the program paid for, and 2) The personal statement building. Without taking the LSAT prep course, I would not have been able to prepare myself as efficiently and probably wouldn’t have gotten the score I did. The personal statement building made me aware of what law school admissions are looking for in these essays, and how to write the most compelling statement possible.

Even if they’re not sure that law school is right for them, this workshop gives people an idea about what law school will be like. And if they are certain or decide to attend law school, the workshop outlines the entire law school application process and exactly how to prepare for it. The PTL Workshop was essential in my acceptance to UCLA School of Law for next fall.”

There is still time to apply for the Pipeline to Law Workshop at University of California Berkeley Law. Attendees will participate in a 5-day workshop that helps assist students like those above to prepare for their careers and studies. Apply before May 1 here.