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ERIC Number: EJ1081504
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1052-5505
The Growing Market for Indian Lawyering
Fletcher, Matthew
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education, v27 n2 Nov 2015
Before 2000, Indian tribes were forced by federal law to get permission to hire an attorney. This article invites readers to consider all of the disputes Indian tribes have had with the United States, state governments, and others before the year 2000, and how in each instance the federal government had to approve the arrangement between the tribe's lawyer and the tribe. Indian tribes may now consult any lawyer they wish without interference from the United States government or anyone else, and many tribal governments actively seek to be represented by American Indian lawyers. In the mid-1960s, there were fewer than 25 American Indians who were practicing lawyers. Many people, law school admissions officers included, apparently believed that American Indians from reservation communities could not handle a law school environment and could not perform the kind of work law school required. In response, University of New Mexico Law School administrators formed the Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians (PLSI) as a demonstration project of sorts, to prove to admissions officers and others that Indian students actually could do the work. PLSI is an eight-week program designed to introduce Native students to the rigors of law school. Nearly 50 years later, more than 90% of the approximately 1,000 PLSI alums who matriculated to law school eventually graduated. Upwards of half of the American Indian lawyers who have practiced since the mid-1960s attended PLSI, a remarkable figure. It is the single most successful program of its kind, and it continues to be highly recommended. As a tribal lawyer, and a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, author Matthew Fletcher, asserts that the market for Indian lawyers has never been greater in the history of American law, and it is likely to keep growing for the foreseeable future. Fletcher encourages American Indian people interested in higher education, interested in serving as Indian law advocates in tribal, state, and federal justice systems, or interested in tribal governance, to seriously consider law school as an option. Fletcher believes that there literally has been no better time to do so. Tribal members and reservation residents know that Indian law touches them and affects their daily lives in a manner unusual for most American citizens, and tribally-controlled colleges and universities (TCUs) are in a great position to prepare American Indians for law schools and legal careers, but legal education is changing and schools and mentors must be knowledgeable. In addition to the regular curricular requirements for Indian students interested in law school, TCUs should encourage and offer support for Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation. Since most law student candidates cannot afford the expensive LSAT test prep classes and materials, tribal colleges can provide those resources, and can also offer LSAT prep classes for credit. The upfront costs will be more than covered by the outcomes--more Indian people taking the LSAT, more Indian people succeeding at the LSAT, and more Indian people going to law school and becoming lawyers.
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education. P.O. Box 720, Mancos, CO 81328. Tel: 888-899-6693; Fax: 970-533-9145; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Law School Admission Test
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A