ASU NALSA collaborated with NABA-AZ to host a NABA-AZ Professional Development Panel for law students.
Theresa Rosier (’98), Katosha Nakai (’03), Kevin Pooley (’15) and Denton Robinson shared tips on networking and employment in Indian Country with our current students. Thank you for coming to speak to our students!
Professor Robert Miller will be a featured speaker at the All Roads Lead to Chaco Canyon conference in Louisiana. The conference will be hosted on Coushatta land in Kinder, Louisiana, March 11-13. We have a conference website which has the agenda and registration. Right now, early bird registration is going on and we do offer student rates.
Getting a piece published can seem like a huge task, especially when you’re a student. Two of our excellent faculty members share their experience with publishing works and offer advice and opinions for those considering writing.
In this month’s episode of the Talking Stick, Conversation with Stacy Leeds, host Derrick Beetso (’10) gets to know visiting Professor Stacy Leeds who taught federal Indian law at ASU Law for the fall 2019 semester. The Vice Chancellor for Economic Development, Dean Emeritus and Professor at the University of Arkansas discusses her recent experience as the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Distinguished Visiting Indian Law Professor at the ASU College of Law, as well as current work she is undertaking which looks at the legal underpinnings of the Indian Civil Rights Act.
Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul (’01) was appointed to her position in January of 2019. She then asked Kimberly Dutcher (’01) to be her Navajo Nation Deputy Attorney General. It is so inspiring to have a powerful team of ILP alumni in the Navajo Nation Department of Justice! In conjunction with their upcoming lunch lecture, we asked McPaul and Dutcher to share their thoughts on their positions and advice for our current students.
As Attorney General, what sort of impact do you hope to make for the Navajo Nation?
Doreen McPaul: I hope to make a positive difference for my tribe and my own people. At the Department of Justice, that means organizing the department in a way that best serves the needs of our clients, being responsive to client requests, and supporting our legal team so that they are enabled to provide the highest quality of legal services to our clients.
As Deputy Attorney General, what sort of impact do you hope to make for the Navajo Nation?
Kimberly Dutcher: I hope to make an impact on the Navajo Nation by improving the Department of Justice to enable its attorneys and advocates to provide exemplary legal services to our clients, the Navajo Nation Council, the Office of the President and Vice President and Navajo Nation departments, programs and agencies.
What strengths do you bring to the position?
Doreen McPaul: Experience, integrity and commitment.
Kimberly Dutcher: I would like to think that my experience working with other tribes, my background in organizational development and my willingness to focus on problem solving are my strengths.
What made you interested in this position?
Doreen McPaul: I’ve worked as an attorney for tribal governments for over a decade and chair a national organization committed to tribal government attorneys. The position was a natural fit for my experience and passion.
Kimberly Dutcher: I have always wanted to work for my tribe. As soon as AG McPaul contacted me about serving the Nation, I was interested!
How do you think your career has led to this position?
Doreen McPaul: My career started in the judicial branch of government practice. First as a law clerk at the Arizona Court of Appeals and then as a staff attorney for the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch in my hometown on the Navajo reservation. I moved to Albuquerque to work for a boutique Indian Law firm and to learn to practice law on behalf of tribes and tribal entities. I moved back to Arizona to teach at the law school for a year and run the Indian Legal Clinic, before finding my passion practicing law in-house for tribal governments.
Kimberly Dutcher: I believe that everything I have done, including prior to going to law school at ASU, led to me serving in this position. Each job I have held contributed to my experience and knowledge in different ways, and I am grateful for both positive and not so positive experiences.
How do you think your legal education at ASU Law and the ILP led you to this position?
Doreen McPaul: My education at ASU College of Law and the ILP served as the foundation for my legal career. The foresight of the law school and the Navajo Nation to develop a fellowship program to promote Navajo lawyers is the reason I was able to go to law school and the reason I chose ASU Law.
Kimberly Dutcher: First, AG McPaul and I met at an orientation for ASU and the ILP back in 1998! My legal education at ASU and the relationships I made during law school are the foundation for my legal career. Professors Rebecca Tsosie, Robert Clinton, Myles Lynk, Robert Bartels and others were instrumental to my education and development as an attorney.
What advice do you have for current students interested in similar positions?
Doreen McPaul: My advice to students is to work hard, to be prepared, to keep challenging yourself, and take advantage of all the opportunities you can and open all the doors possible, to network and build relationships, to know your strengths and weaknesses, and to follow your passions. And to do all those things with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.
Kimberly Dutcher: You can go home again! Tribal nations have so many challenges and it is normal to want to be involved in everything, but everyone has the same 24 hours each day, so prioritize. Remember your role as an attorney and who makes decisions. While you are in law school, learn about different legal career paths and find what interests you and how you can use it to best serve your nation, if that is what you choose to do.
Guest speaker and ILP alum, Derrick Beetso (JD ’10) gave an interactive and fun presentation on October 30, 2019. NCAI’s General Counsel Beetso discussed the history of the National Congress of American Indians and its role in helping shape federal Indian law and policy, his own work on behalf of NCAI and other work and priorities of the organization.
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
“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,”
“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
“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.”
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.”
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
“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.”
Every year, more cities and states pass orders to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) on the second Monday of October as opposed to the federally observed Columbus Day. We asked some of our students their thoughts on this topic. These are the answers we received. Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!
Have you heard the news? Our #ILPfamily is growing! We’ve recently added three new members to our team. We asked Professor Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, Professor Lawrence Roberts and Distinguished Visiting Indian Law Professor Stacy Leeds about their experience as law students and how they feel starting out at a new school. Here is their full responses to our questions.