Member Profile – Colleen Lamarre

Ms. Lamarre (Mohawk) is an associate at Phillips Lytle LLP in Buffalo, New York. Ms. Lamarre concentrates her practice in corporate law, particularly tax planning, executive compensation and employee benefits (ERISA). She counsels a broad spectrum of employers regarding the design, documentation, legal compliance, and administration of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and executive compensation plans. She regularly advises clients on the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate and reporting requirements. She is admitted to practice law in New York and California and is well versed in all aspects of federal and New York State tax and tax-related matters, including corporate tax compliance and planning with respect to standard business operations, mergers, and acquisitions. Ms. Lamarre’s experience includes representation on general matters involving Native American tribes and business entities.

Ms. Lamarre received her J.D. from Cornell Law School and an L.LM. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. She is an American Bar Association Equal Opportunity Scholar, and was President of the Cornell Chapter of the Native American Law Students Association. While in law school, Ms. Lamarre clerked at the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). Ms. Lamarre was a Bench Editor of the Cornell Law School Moot Court Board where she wrote and judged moot court competitions. As a member of the Cornell Law School Land Use Clinic, Ms. Lamarre published a note in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Owning the Center of the Earth: Hydraulic Fracturing and Subsurface Trespass in the Marcellus Shale Region. Ms. Lamarre holds an Government and Middle Eastern Studies from Dartmouth College.

Ms. Lamarre is a member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, Tax Law Section and Young Lawyers Division. She currently serves as the National Native American Bar Association’s representative to the ABA Young Lawyers Division Council. She is Treasurer of the Western New York Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of State of New York. Ms. Lamarre also serves on the Board of Directors of Western New York United Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Inc., a community based prevention agency designed to increase awareness and educate individuals to prevent substance abuse.


Q&A with Colleen Lamarre:

1. Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in San Diego, CA. I am currently living in Buffalo, NY.

2. How did you decide to become a lawyer? Did you always want to practice Indian law and/or work for a tribe? Why or why not?

I was fortunate enough to a have a supportive family and access to the programs and opportunities necessary for me to succeed. I grew up in an urban area where access to services, including legal representation, was limited. It seemed that the least fortunate received the least. My father died when I was a young child; my mother was forced to support two small children on her own and rely on the generosity of our family and community to get by. The kindness of others taught and inspired me to be of service whenever possible. My maternal grandmother, an immigrant, always emphasized that education was the key to independence. Her wise words led me to attain the highest education available to me and to become an attorney.

Although I do not work for a tribe, I represent tribes and individuals on matters relating to tribal self-governance and economic development. In this capacity, I am able to help develop the resources and infrastructure necessary for Native American tribes and individuals to gain greater access to the resources necessary for success.

3. To date, what do you think is your most notable accomplishment – either legal or personal?

Growing up in urban San Diego taught me to develop a variety of skills and experiences to accomplish my dreams. I am proud of the education I have received and how it has prepared me to be my most authentic self in my professional and personal lives.

4. Is there anything in your career that you have not yet accomplished that you have set as a goal for yourself? If so, what is that? If not, do you plan to retire at some point or try another career?

There are many things in my career that I have yet to accomplish. My personal professional goal is to practice law with courage, integrity and authenticity. It is important to me to serve the legal and social needs of my community. I currently do this by providing pro bono services and serving on local non-profit boards. In the future, I would like to help build a pipeline that allows others to create and promote growth and opportunities within Native American communities.

5. Why did you join NNABA? What would you like to see the organization do or accomplish in the near and/or distant future?

I joined NNABA because of its commitment to advancing Native American attorneys and providing guidance and assistance to Native American individuals and nations. NNABA provides a national forum and opportunities for new and experienced attorneys to develop and expand a professional network while also collaborating on substantive issues that impact our profession and communities.

6. Do you have any advice for new lawyers? If so, what is it?

Be kind to yourself and others. Listen to those who came before you and think of those who will come after you.