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.
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.
The 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.
As 2018 comes to a close, the ILP reflects on some of the biggest moments for our community. ASU NALSA won NNALSA Chapter of the Year in April 2018. NNALSA President Sarah Crawford (3L) has been working the whole year on expanding opportunities for the club and the community as a whole.
2018 held a lot of success for ASU NALSA, which opens up future opportunity and success for the club. View their Chapter of the Year Bid here, which shows their accomplishments in the past year.
“As a Native law student, I have benefited and loved the strong support system with fellow Native law students,” Sarah said. “I wish to ensure that all Native law students have a sense of this unity.”
Summer 2019, the Native American Pipeline to Law team will host a 5-day session to help students better understand the law school admissions process at UC Berkeley School of Law in Berkeley, California. Housing provided and a limited number of LSAT Prep courses will be available for participating students. Space is limited, register soon!
To submit your application, click here.
June 26-30, 2019
Application deadline: May 1, 2019
The ILP was able to exceed our goal of 118 donors, raising over $30,000 in donations, through the Pitchfunder campaign for our 30th anniversary. In our new era of self-sufficiency, your donations are more important than ever. The ILP hopes to continue to expand program opportunities for our amazing students through your generous donations and provide scholarships and accessibility to many more students to come.
To the friends of the ILP, this video comes from all of ILP’s students, staff and faculty as a huge thank you for always supporting our program! The people shown are only a handful of the students and faculty that your donations will benefit.
We’d also like to wish our ILP family happy holidays and happy new year! If you’re still in the spirit of giving, it’s not too late to donate to the ILP before 2018 ends. Donate here. Thank you for your contribution!
Come support the graduate students from Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University as they present their paper. The symposium is free and open to the public. Food will be reserved to those who RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Agenda, click here.
Free and open to public.
Food will be reserved to those who send their RSVP to email@example.com. Join us!
The Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law invites graduate students from any discipline to present a 15-minute presentation on a topic related to cultural resources during our upcoming cultural resources symposium. Interested graduate students should submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to Darlene.Lester@asu.edu no later than October 15, 2018. Those selected to present papers will be notified by October 26, 2018.
Come support the graduate students from Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University as they present their paper. The symposium is free and open to the public.