Tribal Law

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dr123
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Tribal Law

Postby dr123 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:39 pm

Just curious if anyone else is interested in tribal law and if its at all a realistic field to break into as a non-native

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retake
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby retake » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:38 pm

why?

HopefullyLaw
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby HopefullyLaw » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:42 pm

Actually, I am highly interested in tribal law. However, I am unsure if the actual practice of tribal law would be as interesting as the study of tribal law.

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dr123
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby dr123 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:44 pm

I'm just curious more than anything. In my line of work we come across some tribal cases and all we do is refer them. It seems interesting to me though

HopefullyLaw
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby HopefullyLaw » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:54 pm

Any specific law school you are looking at/have decided upon? I was told to look at ASU for tribal law if I wanted to research tribal law.

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dr123
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby dr123 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:01 pm

Mainly Mountain West schools, BYU, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Denver are on my short list. I'm not applying until next cycle

Army2Law
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby Army2Law » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:09 pm

New Mexico actually has decent tribal law offerings from what I've heard.

RedTex
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby RedTex » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:57 am

I worked with some lawyers for my tribe in Oklahoma over the summer, and it seems like it tribal law is a rapidly growing field. I also know that a significant number of employees, including some of the lawyers, for my tribe are non-native. At least in Oklahoma, many tribes have a shortage of professional labor. I think this mostly stems from the fact that they are located in the middle of nowhere, so many members aren't willing to move back home after obtaining a law degree.

From the law firm side, I know that many of the lawyers we hire are also non-native. While being Indian may give you an advantage, it certainly would not preclude you from having a practice that includes tribal law.

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sundance95
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby sundance95 » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:01 am

If you enter a tribal law firm as a non-native, I would not expect to make partner. This is based on some anecdotal evidence I can share if you PM.

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dr123
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby dr123 » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:02 am

Not interested in firm jobs, good to know though

Jacktone
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby Jacktone » Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:32 am

I both work for my Tribe in a position where I interact frequently with our attorneys and attend meetings for practitioners of Indian law in my state. Being Native has in my experience not been a requirement for those who practice tribal law. In fact, some of the leading authors of books on tribal law are not Native. I would, however, recommend against working for Tribal governments. Although everyone I know who doesn't work in Indian country assumes that Tribes are all rich because of casinos, this is not the case. Many are still very poor, and getting them to pay their legal bills can be like pulling teeth. Also, selection of tribal attorneys can be highly political (and tribal politics can be vicious), so you may frequently lose clients after tribal elections. Finally, sometimes the work you do will actually hurt the members of the Tribe that you're working for. Tribal governments have been known to oppress their own members, e.g. disenrollment, and whenever such oppression is brought before some form of court, be it tribal or federal, you're the one who has to fight for what's wrong.

Of course, part of what is unique about Tribes is that they truly are all their own individual communities. Since there are 565 federally recognized Tribes and plenty more that don't have federal recognition, I'm sure there are some who do not engage in any of the behavior that I have described (although I have not yet encountered one). If you do actually pursue a career in Indian law, I'd suggest trying to work for some kind of organization that helps individual Natives at low or no cost.

In terms of schools, every attorney I know went to law school within the general region of the Tribes they work for (except one who went to Arizona state, but she is a member of a Tribe in my area). I also know there are some UCLA faculty who are very involved in the field. I may decide to work in Indian law, despite its many drawbacks, but because I also know I might not, my stance is, like many others on this website, T14 or bust.

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alex_cryp
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby alex_cryp » Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:05 am

Jacktone wrote:I both work for my Tribe in a position where I interact frequently with our attorneys and attend meetings for practitioners of Indian law in my state. Being Native has in my experience not been a requirement for those who practice tribal law. In fact, some of the leading authors of books on tribal law are not Native. I would, however, recommend against working for Tribal governments. Although everyone I know who doesn't work in Indian country assumes that Tribes are all rich because of casinos, this is not the case. Many are still very poor, and getting them to pay their legal bills can be like pulling teeth. Also, selection of tribal attorneys can be highly political (and tribal politics can be vicious), so you may frequently lose clients after tribal elections. Finally, sometimes the work you do will actually hurt the members of the Tribe that you're working for. Tribal governments have been known to oppress their own members, e.g. disenrollment, and whenever such oppression is brought before some form of court, be it tribal or federal, you're the one who has to fight for what's wrong.

Of course, part of what is unique about Tribes is that they truly are all their own individual communities. Since there are 565 federally recognized Tribes and plenty more that don't have federal recognition, I'm sure there are some who do not engage in any of the behavior that I have described (although I have not yet encountered one). If you do actually pursue a career in Indian law, I'd suggest trying to work for some kind of organization that helps individual Natives at low or no cost.

In terms of schools, every attorney I know went to law school within the general region of the Tribes they work for (except one who went to Arizona state, but she is a member of a Tribe in my area). I also know there are some UCLA faculty who are very involved in the field. I may decide to work in Indian law, despite its many drawbacks, but because I also know I might not, my stance is, like many others on this website, T14 or bust.


+1

OP--have you ever worked for a tribe or on a reservation? Tribal jobs are all about who you know. Connections. Highly politicized. You might want to try some volunteer work on a reservation before you decide on Indian Law. I'm non-native and have lived and worked on a reservation for the past four years-going to law school this year. Many of my friends here are native lawyers. Possible to break into it as a non-native sure, a few years back the tribe's primary council was a brilliant non-native that graduated from Yale--but you really really have to want it, so I suggest testing the waters first and building connections for the future through some volunteer work before you start school. PM me if you want info on volunteer opportunities that I know about.

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Alex-Trof
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby Alex-Trof » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:52 pm

dr123 wrote:Just curious if anyone else is interested in tribal law and if its at all a realistic field to break into as a non-native


I have a friend who is doing tribal law in New Mexico. He is originally from Colorado, got his J.D. from ASU. He is a Native American though, but I don't think it really matters.

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barklm
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Re: Tribal Law

Postby barklm » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:49 pm

Tribal Law is the field that I want to practice in. I've compiled a list of all of the NA programs I could find - if you're interested, I would be happy to share this with you. I believe that it is a field you could break into regardless of your ethnicity. For example, 30% of the people that take part in the program at the University of Arizona are not of NA descent. (Per their website.)




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