Progress, Power, Purpose: Judith Dworkin

Women's History Month

In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the ILP to shed light on Native women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. As an ASU Law alum who clerked for Judge William C. Canby, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and a founding faculty member of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Indian Legal Program, it was for a greater purpose that she become a longtime Indian legal defender and a respected member of the ILP Advisory Council. Powerfully positioned at one of Arizona’s prestigious law firms and leading its Indian Law and Tribal Relations sector, she was recently named as one of the The Best Lawyers in America

Q: What does your current position entail?
A: I recently stepped down as the managing partner of a 35 person law firm. I am an equity shareholder and the head of the Indian law practice area. I currently supervise two Native American lawyers and I represent various tribes, tribal districts/chapters and tribal enterprises in both transactional and litigation work.

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work?
A: After I received a Ph.D. I taught water resources management at two research universities and then left to obtain a law degree. I have been interested in this practice area since law school.

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area?
A: My advice for any woman is to work hard, be prepared to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. You will be noticed as someone that senior lawyers and clients can rely on. In addition, learn what work style the senior lawyer has and be available.

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: Probably one of the most fulfilling was ensuring that DNA People’s Legal Services didn’t fail because of the failures of the CEO and the CFO. Through hard work, lots of overtime and making difficult decisions, we managed to keep the doors open for this Legal Services organization. As a result I was awarded the Foundation for Justice Award.

Q: Is there anything you’ve learned after graduating law school that you wished you learned in class?
A: It’s been a long time since I was in law school. The social media stuff wasn’t around and I would like to do a better job at that.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned in the classroom that has helped you in your career?
A: How to read cases and summarize the decisions.

Q: Who are three Native American women law professionals and/or advocates who should be on our radar right now?
A: Patty Ferguson, Candace French (’17) , and Hilary Tompkins.

Review Judy’s publications:

Continue to Progress, Power, Purpose series.

________

Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Progress, Power, Purpose: April Olson (’06)

Women's History Month

In celebrating “Women’s History Month,” we turned to some of the women of the ILP to shed light on women legal professionals and advocates in this Progress, Power, Purpose series. It is the century of the woman, and we know that it’s time for women to occupy all spaces meant to be occupied. While in law school, students learn about different areas of the law. With her prior experience in social services, this fierce advocate knew what she wanted before she began her law school journey and is now an ICWA expert, among other areas of law. She has worked hard to fine-tune her craft and is a partner at a local law firm and has been serving on the ILP Advisory Council since 2016. 

Q: What does your position entail?
A: I am a partner at a small firm, Rothstein Donatelli LLP. I am also one of two co-managing partners. As a partner, I am responsible for helping to manage the business aspects of the firm. I am also a practicing attorney with a full caseload. The Tempe Office of the Firm has 2 partners and 2 associates and we only practice in the area of tribal law and federal Indian law. My clients are primarily Indian tribes or tribal entities, although I occasionally take on individual clients for pro bono work and represent indigent defendants. My practice focuses on Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) work, labor and employment, investigations (criminal, ethics, employment), litigation and general counsel type work. I am also a Tribal Court Judge for a tribe in California and I sit on two Tribal Appellate Courts.     

Q: Were you always interested in this kind of work?
A:
Yes! Before I went to law school, I did social work for a tribe in Minnesota. It involved licensing on-reservation foster families, helping place children in accordance with ICWA, and working with youth aging out of foster care. I loved it and it was a catalyst for me going to law school. If you ask Kate, I only wanted to do ICWA when I got to ASU; however, that changed…

Q: What advice do you have for Native American women who want to work in this area?
A: You belong here. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support from your sisters.  We are here for you and it’s not easy being BIPOC and an attorney. The stories we could tell.    

Q: What is your proudest career moment?
A: This is tough, but probably when I traveled cross country with a baby to give her back to her young, Indian birth mother. An adoption agency had tried to adopt the baby out, but ICWA prevailed! Second best is probably when we won our appeal in one of the Standing Rock water protector cases and a conviction was overturned.  

Q: Is there anything you’ve learned after graduating law school that you wished you learned in class?
A: Sometimes the best route for your client is not straight through but around. Relationships matter, as does how you approach a task and others.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned in the classroom that has helped you in your career?
A: Always be prepared! Thanks Professor Clinton.

Q: Who are three Native American women law professionals and/or advocates who should be on our radar right now?
A: Only three??? Ok.

  • Deb Haaland, first Native American confirmed as Cabinet Secretary
  • Doreen McPaul, phenomenal Navajo AG
  • Natalie Landreth, amazing former NARF attorney, now deputy solicitor

Q: Favorite law school memory.
A: Too many to count. But I miss just stopping by the ILP room for a chat, family time, etc.. 

Continue to Progress, Power, Purpose series.

________

Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Expanding our reach thanks to $5M donation

On Jan. 31, we announced the $5 million gift that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians generously gave to ASU and the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance programs. The funds will help support our ever-growing program and allow us to extend our reach to more students who wish to study Indian law!

Read the ASU Now article here.

Thank you San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for this incredible gift!

NABA-AZ 2015 Seven Generations Honorees

Native American Bar Association of Arizona
2015 Seven Generations Honorees

The Native American Bar Association of Arizona (“NABA-AZ”) would like to congratulate its 2015 NABA-AZ Seven Generations Honorees.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Eric Dahlstrom, Partner
Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom,
Schoenburg & Bienvenu, LLP

Community Award
James Anaya, Regents Professor & the
James J. Lenoir Professor of Human Rights
Law and Policy,
University of Arizona James E. Rogers
College of Law

Member of the Year Award
Denton Robinson, Partner
Rothstein, Donatelli, Hughes, Dahlstrom,
Schoenburg & Bienvenu, LLP

Please save the date, as the Seven Generations Dinner and Silent Auction will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, located at 5040 Wild Horse Pass Blvd, Chandler, Arizona 85048, Gila River Indian Community.

Please contact Kate Rosier at (480) 965-6204 or kathlene.rosier@asu.edu, NABA-AZ Dinner Committee Chair, if you have any questions about the upcoming dinner and silent auction.

National Native American Bar Association Releases Study of Native American Attorneys

The National Native American Bar Association (NNABA) and NNABA Foundation recently released the results of the first-of-its-kind research study on Native American attorneys. This research is the only comprehensive research regarding Native American attorneys across all practice settings where each and every of the over 500 survey respondents identified as Native American.

One of the powerful findings of this study is that Native Americans often feel invisible and share an overarching perspective that their experiences are not valid or real. In addition to documenting the failure of traditional diversity and inclusion efforts to reach Native American attorneys, the study sheds light on unique challenges facing American Indians. Native Americans are clearly behind even other underrepresented groups in terms of inclusion, retention, and representation.

“This comprehensive research is not only the first – but the only – research that examines the experiences of Native American attorneys across all practice settings. It presents a stark portrait of an entire group of attorneys systematically excluded from the legal profession,” said Mary Smith, NNABA President. “It is clear that traditional diversity and inclusion programs are simply not working for Native American attorneys. NNABA hopes that this research will be used to build a more robust pipeline of Native American attorneys and to work toward the full inclusion of Native Americans in the legal profession.”

Highlights of the research include:

  • The survey captured information from 527 Native American attorneys, approximately 20% of the 2,640 Native American attorneys in the United States.
  • The most satisfied attorneys were working in the tribal sector, and the least satisfied attorneys were working for the federal/state government or law firms; however, tribal politics/cliques, overwhelming workloads, and not being able to make an impactful difference were cited as primary sources of dissatisfaction even in the context of being generally satisfied.
  • Over 40% of the attorneys overall in the study reported experiencing demeaning comments or other types of harassment based on their race, ethnicity, and/or tribal affiliation; and 33.63% reported experiencing one or more forms of discrimination based on their race, ethnicity, and/or tribal affiliation.
  • Women were more likely than men to report demeaning comments and/or harassment based on gender (38% to 3%); discrimination based on gender (35% to 4%); denial of advancement or promotional opportunities due to gender (21% to 3%); and denial of appropriate compensation due to gender (29% to 1%).
  • Over 76% of the attorneys in this study reported that more awareness and understanding of issues faced by Native Americans would have a positive impact on their careers. In comparison, only 60% of the attorneys felt that more effective implementation of diversity and inclusion policies in their workplace would have a positive impact on their careers. This is not surprising given the ways diversity and inclusion initiatives have largely ignored the issues and concerns of Native American attorneys.

For more information and to view the full report and the executive summary, go to http://www.nativeamericanbar.org/native-american-attorney-study/.

Founded in 1973, NNABA serves as the national association for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NNABA strives for justice and effective legal representation for all American indigenous peoples; fosters the development of Native American lawyers and judges; and addresses social, cultural and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

For more information contact 480-727-0420 or visit www.nativeamericanbar.org. 

Tribal Government E-Commerce: Innovating a New Geography of Indian Country CLE Conference – Feb 12-13, 2015

Many tribes have recently become involved in pursuing business operated over the Internet.  These E-Commerce opportunities have not only created thriving economies, but they have also led to a tangled web of legal issues where state, tribal and federal laws and policies are colliding. The quick growth of E-Commerce in Indian Country has outpaced a general understanding of how E-Commerce law is intertwined with federal Indian law especially as it may relate to States’ rights.

The goal of this conference is to explore the legal issues surrounding the development of E-Commerce in Indian Country including: jurisdictional complexities and the necessity of fostering open dialogue with federal and state counterparts, the possible implications to tribal sovereignty, and the ongoing need for tribes to build infrastructures that facilitate economic growth on their reservations while complying with appropriate federal guidelines.

This conference will bring together tribal leaders and officials, lawyers practicing in Indian country, on and off reservation economic planning and development experts, business and finance specialists, virtual casino managers and executives, online vendors and entrepreneurs, regulatory experts and cutting‐edge scholars to explore the legal issues of tribal E-Commerce.

Click here to view the conference agenda – please join us!