In May 2014, the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), a 501(c)(6) organization, incorporated the NNABA Foundation (the “Foundation”), which is a 501(c)(3) organization and will serve as the charitable arm of NNABA.
The general nature of the business to be transacted by the Foundation is fostering the development of Native American lawyers, and addressing social, cultural, and legal issues affecting American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, through the grant of scholarships to law students, the organization of seminars and conferences on topics of interest to the legal profession, and the preparation and distribution of articles and reports on legal issues.
While the Foundation is still in the process of finalizing its governance structure, in broad terms, the Foundation will implement a phased three-tier approach to building the pipeline of Native American attorneys.
Tier One: The first phase of the Foundation’s activities will be to complete and highlight the publication of the groundbreaking research on Native American attorneys. This research will be published in the spring of 2015. This comprehensive research study is designed to explore the perspectives and experiences of Native American attorneys. This research will result in the first-of-its-kind study, focused on providing a picture of the issues confronting Native American attorneys across all settings including private practice; government practice in state, federal and tribal arenas; the judiciary; corporate legal departments; and academia. Ultimately, the findings from this study will be used to develop educational materials and programs that will help improve the pipeline of Native Americans to attend law school the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of Native American attorneys in the legal profession.
Tier Two: Following the publication of the research, the second phase of the Foundation’s activities will be to establish scholarships for Native American attorneys to attend law school. In addition to providing financial assistance, these scholarships will provide assistance in applying to law school, and then assist with networking, interview skills and resume review during the first year of law school through the development of webinars and assigning mentors to the scholarship recipients.
Tier Three: Because the pipeline begins much before college and the decision to attend law school, particularly for Native Americans, the third phase of the Foundation’s activities will be to outreach to high schools with large populations of Native American attorneys and to develop programs and events to encourage Native American high school students to attend to college and to consider law as a career. This phase is anticipated to begin after the 2016 academic year.