Indian Law Home
A lack of Indian law courses and a dearth of training opportunities have created a shortage of lawyers who are qualified to serve the needs of tribal communities throughout the country. To provide Native communities with competent legal support for both traditional sovereignty concerns and contemporary issues such as gaming, economic development, natural resources, water rights, and child custody, Lewis & Clark Law School has made an institutional commitment to provide students with comprehensive training in the field of Indian law.
Why Indian Law?
Because Indian law touches on every aspect of law while retaining its own unique features, you will likely encounter it sometime during your legal career. And, in the areas of environmental and natural resources law, family law, business law, and criminal law, to name a few, Indian law presents special challenges. There are numerous federal, state, and tribal jurisdictional issues to untangle.
Indian law practitioners work in many capacities. They may work directly for a tribe as counsel or judge, or they may work for an outside firm that specializes in Indian law. There are also jobs at all levels of government from tribal to state and federal. Many nonprofit and special interest organizations deal with Indian law.
With rich course offerings by distinguished faculty members, Lewis & Clark Law School provides a solid academic platform for advancement in the practice of Indian law and its diverse specialties. The law school incorporates the best aspects of classroom-based learning with many opportunities for the development of practical legal skills. The law school’s emphasis on environmental issues as well as business reflects the ongoing development issues that face many tribes across the country. Our comprehensive curriculum produces graduates prepared to successfully face the challenges at the forefront of Indian law practice.
Indian Law Summer Program
The Indian Law Summer Program is a ten-week, multifaceted, intensive program that includes advanced courses in Indian law. Courses offered include a basic federal Indian law course and more advanced courses. In recent years Indian jurisprudence, Contemporary Issues in Indian Law, and Federalism and Indian Law have been among the offerings. Taught by nationally recognized scholars and teachers in the field of Indian law, the summer program allows students from across the country to train in the complex issues comprising the field of Indian law.
Sande Schmidt Memorial Scholarship
Sande was an attorney with the Native American Program, Legal Aid Service of Oregon (NAPOLS) from 1983 until she passed away in 1996. While with NAPOLS, Sande served as a teacher and mentor to many law students and attorneys throughout Indian Country. During her tenure with NAPOLS, Sande played a key role in the restoration of federal recognition to the Klamath Tribes and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Indians of Oregon. She also was involved in a variety of cases that have had a tremendous impact on Indian tribes and Indian people including Smith v. Employment Division, United States v. Adair, and Klamath Tribes v. Oregon.
A memorial scholarship fund has been established to honor Sande’s commitment to providing high quality legal representation to Indian people and Indian tribes in Oregon. One scholarship will be awarded annually to a law student with a demonstrated interest in the practice of Indian law. As long as the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College offers the intensive Indian Law Summer Study Program, the scholarships awarded will be dedicated to students who have enrolled in that program, with priority given to Native students.
Apply here for the Sande Schmidt Memorial Scholarship.
Quinault Allottees: Nelson D. Terry Scholarship
A scholarship for students committed to environmental issues and to the success of their fellow law students. The scholarship is a gift from the Quinault Indian Allottees Association from the interest on a large judgment in a prolonged and complex lawsuit.
Academic Enhancement Program
The law school has long understood that the lack of ethnic and minority law students nationwide demonstrates a need for innovative and comprehensive programs to help minorities achieve population parity in the legal profession. To bridge cultural differences that may exist between ethnic minority law students and the legal academic and professional communities, and to address academic issues before an during law school, Lewis & Clark provides interested students with the Academic Enhancement Program. The program includes people of all ethnic backgrounds who may have experienced cultural or socioeconomic barriers to education. This voluntary program includes an eight-day Summer Institute, four Centering Sessions, Skills Building Sessions throughout the first year, and an eight-week Bar Support Program for graduates.