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Labor Day

Hello, NNABA members:

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Labor Day!

We hope you are enjoying these e-newsletters. If you have comments or suggestions, we would very much like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at

Mary Smith
Mary Smith
NNABA President, 2013-2015

Accreditation Resolution

The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education is proposing revisions to law school accreditation standards that cause concern among the bars of color because of the potential negative impact on the admission of students of color to law school. The ABA currently requires law schools to demonstrate a 75% bar passage rate and the ABA Section of Legal Education Standards Review Committee is considering a proposed revision of the law school bar passage accreditation requirement that would increase the ultimate passage rate requirement to 80% without any hard data or comprehensive studies documenting how this change would impact ABA-approved law schools, including but not limited to schools that provide access and opportunity to large numbers of Native American, African American and Hispanic/Latino students. NNABA, along with the the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), submitted resolutions to the ABA that contend that the proposed revisions related to bar passage rates and accreditation would adversely impact law schools that admit a greater number of students of color. A copy of NNABA’s resolution can be found here. More information about the standards can be found here. The Standards Review Committee will continue consideration of these proposals at its October meeting in Atlanta.

Co-Sponsorship of ABA ICWA Resolution

NNABA co-sponsored a resolution proposed by the ABA Commission on Youth at Risk and the ABA Center for Children in the Law that urges full implementation of, and compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). This resolution passed the ABA House of Delegates on August 12, and became official ABA policy. A copy of the ABA resolution can be found here.

This resolution follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25, 2013 decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. NNABA had filed an amicus brief in this case. The brief was drafted by Arizona State University Indian Legal Clinic students under the supervision of Professor Robert Clinton and Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Immediate Past NNABA President. Click here to sse a copy of the brief.

Immediate Past President Patty Ferguson-Bohnee Speaks at Forum on Native American Issues

Forum Photo

Immediate Past President Patty Ferguson-Bohnee spoke on a panel sponsored by the ABA’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities entitled Forum on Native American Issues on Saturday, August 10, 2013, at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Panelists addressed current cutting edge legal issues that impact Indian Tribes and their members, voting rights and election issues in Indian Country, reviving entrepreneurial economies in Indian Country, tribal control of unmanned aerial vehicles and their impact on privacy and religious practice in Indian Country, and challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act. Immediate Past President Ferguson-Bohnee spoke about voting rights in Indian County. Other panelists were Philip Baker-Shenk, Partner, Holland & Knight; Robert Miller, Professor of Law, Arizona State University; Geoff Strommer, Partner, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker; and Kirke Kickingbird, Of Counsel, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker and two-time past NNABA President (’96-’97 and ’01-’02).

NNABA President Mary Smith Attends Judicial Meeting

NNABA President Mary Smith attended a meeting, along with representatives of the other bars of color, with the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary on Friday, August 9, 2013, during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. This meeting was a follow up to the meeting that was held last year during the ABA Annual Meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to meet with the outgoing chair Judy Perry-Martinez and to meet the new chair, Bettina Plevin. Last year, the issue of implicit bias with respect to women and persons of color was discussed in connection with the Committee’s rankings. Generally, the meeting was a follow up to the letter that the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) sent to the ABA committee in the spring of 2012 to comment on the issue of ratings of candidates of color. Out of 874 Article III judgeships, there are currently no American Indians.

NNABA President Mary Smith Elected as ABA Delegate-At-Large

NNABA President Mary Smith was elected as one of six delegates-at-large at the ABA Annual Meeting. President Smith joins NNABA’s Delegate, Robert Saunooke, as a delegate in the ABA House of Delegates.

NNABA Applauds the Confirmation of Tony West as Associate Attorney General

NNABA applauded the July 25, 2013 confirmation of Tony West as Associate Attorney General by a vote of 98-1. As Associate Attorney General, which is the third-ranking position at the Department of Justice, West advises the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General on departmental policies and oversees the Department’s civil litigating divisions among other duties. West has distinguished himself in his work on behalf of tribal interests and Native Americans across the country. To see NNABA’s press release, click here.

NNABA Co-Sponsors Symposia on Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession

Congratulations to NNABA Treasurer Lawrence Baca for his article “Apples, Bananas, Coconuts and Oreos – the Fruit Salad and Dessert of Race: American Indians in the Diversity Discourse” in the newly released “Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) 2012: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession” (IILP Review). NNABA is co-sponsoring IILP’s upcoming symposia which will discuss the state of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. NNABA members may register for the symposia with a 50% discount.

The IILP Review will serve as the focal point for seven symposia that are being presented around the country.

Chicago: Tuesday, December 3rd from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP

Dallas: Wednesday, October 23rd from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM at AT&T

Houston: Tuesday, October 22nd from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM at Baker Botts LLP

Los Angeles: Tuesday, October 8th from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Sidley Austin LLP

New York: Tuesday, November 19th from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Jenner & Block LLP

Seattle: Friday, October 25th from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Washington, D.C.: Wednesday, November 13th from 3:00 PM – 8:00 PM at Baker & McKenzie

For a copy of the IILP Review and a more detailed schedule of symposia, visit IILP’s website at

Report to U.N. Human Rights Committee Regarding American Indigenous Prisoners' Religious Rights‏

NNABA has signed onto a report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee regarding indigenous prisoners' rights to practice traditional Indian religion. NNABA previously sponsored a resolution on this issue for CBAC. To see National Native American Bar Association, Resolution # 2013-3 (April 10, 2013), click here.


Our Attorney Membership Form and Student Membership Form are available to download as PDF files. Benefits of being a NNABA member include weekly access to a variety of new, nationwide job announcements by email and on this site. To join, click here.

The membership year runs from April to April and dues are $50 per year. At this time, NNABA is able to accept checks and money orders for payment of dues.

If you have any questions about membership or experience any difficulty with downloading, please feel free to contact us at


Alexander Award

ABA Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award, recognizing exemplary leadership in diversity pipeline work by an individual or organization. Deadline: Tuesday, October 1, 2013. For details click here.