Indian Legal Program

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Established more than 30 years ago, the Indian Legal Program (ILP) at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has grown to become one of the most respected Indian law programs in the nation. Situated in the heart of the Southwest, with connections to Arizona’s 22 tribes and tribes nationally, the ILP is in the perfect location for students looking to study the developing field of Indian law. Our nationally recognized faculty members are leading scholars in their fields, producing research and publications, as well as providing outreach and public service.

Home to one of the highest concentrations of Native American students and Indian law students in the nation, ASU Law has an active Native American Law Students Association that hosts events, participates in pro bono activities, and mentors incoming students. Students have an instant network to support them academically, professionally and socially. Working for tribes, in public service, private practice and nonprofit organizations, Indian Legal Program alumni are making a difference in Indian Country. The program's positive reputation is in large part due to the success and support of its graduates.

ASU Law’s Indian Legal Program offers these focus areas of specialized study: Indian Law, Indian Gaming, Tribal Self-Governance, and Tribal Policy, Law and Government (LLM).

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

Degrees

Juris Doctor, JD can be focused in Indian Law, and students can earn an Indian Law Certificate.

The Indian Law Certificate Program is designed for JD students with an interest in Indian law. Students are required to take at least 21 hours of classes that are relevant to the practice of Indian law, write a substantial paper on an Indian law topic, and complete practical work experience in the award-winning Indian Legal Clinic. The Indian Law Certificate shows a higher level of understanding in the subject matter. Graduates stand out to employers, especially if seeking a job in representing state, federal or tribal governments, or represent companies that do business with tribes.


Master of Laws, LLM in Tribal Policy Law and Government - Do you have your law degree and work (or aspire to work) with Native American tribes and businesses? Are you interested in government, economic development, or health care positions that impact Native populations? If so, consider a Master of Laws with an emphasis in one of three areas: Indian Gaming, Tribal Self-Governance or Tribal Policy, Law and Government. Each area allows for customization and students attend in-person in Washington, D.C. or Phoenix, Arizona.


Master of Legal Studies, MLS is designed for those who do not wish to practice law, but who would benefit from having more knowledge in federal Indian law. An MLS is offered in three areas: Indian Gaming, Tribal Self-Governance and Indian Law.

Student opportunities and experiences

The Indian Legal Program provides students the opportunity to see the law in action with two traveling classes. Students have the opportunity to leave Arizona and learn from experts in the field. In Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client, students attend class during fall break at the ASU Washington Center in DC with former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Carl Artman and visiting lecturers from the DC area providing instruction.

This class introduces students to the practical application of the relationship between tribes and the federal government, including the development of federal Indian policy. While in DC, students visit different offices and network with professionals working in the field. In Contemporary Issues in Tribal Economic Development, students attend class in Winnebago, Nebraska, during spring break at the corporate headquarters of Ho- Chunk Inc. with Lance Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., instructing the class. Ho-Chunk Inc. is an award-winning economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Established in 1994 with one employee, Ho-Chunk Inc. has grown to over 1,000 employees with operations in 10 states and four foreign countries. Topics covered include tobacco and gas operations and tax compacts, tribal corporate structures, government contracting, a new tribal farming initiative, as well as numerous other subjects.

Native American Law Students Association at ASU Law is a large and active group of Native and non-Native law students. It is committed to promoting the understanding of Native American cultures and legal issues affecting indigenous people. It organizes community service activities, social activities, and mentorships. The student mentorships provide incoming students with academic support, advice, and friendship. The ASU Chapter is an active member of the National Native American Law Students Association organization, competes in the annual national moot court competition, and co-sponsors the Indian Legal Program /Native American Law Students Association graduation celebration.

Sample of coursework

  • Cultural Resources
  • Indian Gaming
  • Tribal Law and Government
  • Economic Development in Indian Country
  • Contemporary Issues in Tribal Economic Development
  • Indian Law and Taxation
  • Federal Advocacy for the Tribal Client
  • International Indigenous Rights
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Civil Rights Legislation
  • Environmental Law
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Water Law
  • Tribal Energy

ASU Law students participate in:

  • Indian Law Certificate requires 21 hours of Indian law courses, a substantial paper, and a practicum in the Indian Legal Clinic.
  • Rosette LLP, American Indian Economic Development Program provides an innovative curriculum and hosts an annual conference ontribal economic development.
  • National conferences and lectures by top scholars and attorneys on legal issues in Indian country.
  • Native Vote Election Protection Project assists with voters and tribal communities.
  • Tribal Court Trial Skills College provides training for tribal court advocates.
  • Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative provides community outreach, mentorship, and pre-law advising to help improve access tojustice in tribal communities.
  • The Indian Legal Clinic allows students to participate in real cases with Native people and Indian issues. The clinic serves both Indiancountry and urban Indian populations by providing high-quality legal services, with attention to the special legal and cultural needs of Native people.

Wiring the Rez

American Indian Nations and American Indians are pursuing business opportunities of every kind, including e-commerce and private-sector economies. One advantage of online businesses is that they address the physical challenges that mostly-remote Indian Country still faces today. E-commerce can create thriving economies, but involve jurisdictional, economic and practical issues.

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Tribal Court Trial Skills College

The Tribal Court Trial Skills College is an intensive workshop providing practical, hands-on training for tribal court advocates, attorneys and judges who wish to develop their trial skills and improve their confidence in court. During the course of the College, students participate in interactive lectures and simulations in the following areas: opening statements, direct and cross examinations, jury selection and instructions, and closing arguments. Students will receive individual feedback and evaluations on their skills from exceptionally qualified and experienced tribal court litigators and judges from throughout Arizona.

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Navajo Nation Law CLE

This conference will offer a survey of legal issues in business development, energy law, criminal law and case law updates, as well as an exploration in Fundamental Law. It is ideal training for tribal court advocates, tribal court practitioners, tribal court prosecutors, tribal court defenders, tribal council members, Indian law attorneys and attorneys practicing on and near the Navajo Nation Reservation, tribal liaisons, government legislators, Navajo Nation Bar members, law students, as well as teachers/professors and students of American Indian studies.

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ILP highlights

One of the highest concentrations of Indian law students and faculty in the nation.

An active Native American Law Students Association to give students an instant network.

Mentorship and alumni services to help our students succeed.

Student Testimonials

Mariah Black Bird

Mariah Black Bird (Cheyenne River Sioux)

3L - Class of 2021


"The entire experience of being a part of ILP is amazing! From the alumni and faculty support, the community-like structure embedded within my class is very unique. There’s no competition. It’s pure support for one another. Another unique experience is the D.C. and Nebraska traveling classes that are held during the fall and spring breaks. These classes are so eye opening in two very different spheres for tribes."

Dylan West

Dylan West (Choctaw)

3L - Class of 2021


"Meeting and interacting with classmates who think and interpret the world in a similar way to me has been a great experience. The facilities, class discussions, and learning materials have all been incredibly engaging and I can’t think of a better place to be for my legal education."

Aspen Miller

Aspen Miller (Navajo)

3L - Class of 2021


"I always thought of law school as a far-off ambition or end goal. Now that I’m here, I can see that this is just the beginning, and much will be demanded of me, but I hope to do well. There is a great feeling of unification from being a part of the Indian Legal Program and it reminds me that there is so much to celebrate."

Our graduates are making impacts all across Indian Country

Indian Legal Program Events

Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 12:15pm to 1:30pm
Monday, November 16, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Expertise

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee
Pointe-au-Chien
Faculty Director, ILP
Clinical Professor of Law

Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes
Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Professor of Practice and Director, 
Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Programs
Robert J. Miller
Robert J. Miller
Eastern Shawnee
Professor of Law

Lawrence S. Roberts
Lawrence S. Roberts
Oneida
Professor of Practice and Executive Director,
Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Programs

Trevor Reed
Trevor Reed
Hopi
Associate Professor of Law

Tamara Herrera
Tamara Herrera
Clinical Professor of Law
Beth DiFelice
Beth DiFelice
Assistant Dean and Director of the Library, Ross-Blakley Law Library

Helen Burtis
Helen Burtis
Faculty Associate
Carl Artman
Carl Artman
Oneida

Lance Morgan
Lance Morgan
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Pilar Thomas
Pilar Thomas
Pascua Yaqui

Steve Bodmer
Steve Bodmer
Natchez-Kusso
Breann Swann Nu’uhiwa
Breann Swann Nu’uhiwa
Native Hawaiian

  • The Hon. William C. Canby – Judge, Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Paul Bender – Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus, ASU Law
  • Dr. Bryan Brayboy – Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs, President’s Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice, ASU, School of Social Transformation
  • Diane Enos – Attorney, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
  • Jennifer K. Giff – Senior Counsel, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
  • Judith M. Dworkin – Managing Partner, Sacks Tierney PA
  • Robert Rosette – Founder and Managing Partner, Rosette, LLP
  • Peter Larson – Partner, Lewis Rocha Rothgerber Christie LLP
  • Bradley G. Bledsoe Downes – Founder, Bledsoe Downes, PC
  • April Erin Olson – Partner, Rothstein Donatelli LLP
  • Derrick Beetso – General Counsel, National Congress of American Indians
  • Maria Dadgar – Executive Director, Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona
  • Steve Bodmer – General Counsel, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Verrin T. Kewenvoyouma - Managing Partner, Kewenvoyouma, PLLC
  • Nikki Borchardt Campbell – Executive Director, National American Indian Court Judges Association
  • Matthew L. Campbell – Staff Attorney, National American Rights Fund

Reminder:

Everyone entering the Beus Center for Law and Society Building is required to wear a face covering and all guests need to have an appointment.