At Colorado Law, we believe that American Indians deserve the very best lawyers and that we have an obligation to train them. Our American Indian Law Program faculty, including the nation’s top scholars and practitioners in the field, offers a full slate of introductory and advanced classes in the field to prepare students for all aspects of Indian law practice, and we now have dozens of successful alumni practicing Indian law in tribal government, federal agencies, and at law firms. Colorado Law graduates are equally prepared to work on impact litigation, economic development, policy advocacy, individual legal services, and tribal governance in Indian law. Our American Indian Law Program also appeals to many students with broader practice interests in natural resources, public lands, property, museum and art law, technology, entrepreneurship, family law, and beyond. Indeed, because American Indian law raises questions regarding the rule of law and legal pluralism, the contours of sovereignty and governance, cross-cultural representation and minority rights, and interdisciplinary study and practice, it offers important intellectual development opportunities for all Colorado Law students.
Drawing from the legacy of some of our earliest alumni, including the famous legal advocate and intellectual Vine Deloria ’70, and our relationship with the Native American Rights Fund, founded by the late Dean David Getches, our approach to American Indian law is deeply grounded in Indian Country. The American Indian Law Program at Colorado Law provides students with opportunities to gain practical experience and serve Indian people and tribes through the American Indian Law Clinic; externships at NARF, the Ute tribes, and Denver Indian Center; and clerkship opportunities at law firms and tribal courts. In conjunction with the Colorado Indian Bar Association and other sponsors, we have a new annual Speaker Series and Conference, allowing Colorado Law to serve as the region’s convening institution for tribal leaders, advocates, scholars and community members to address the most pressing challenges in Indian law and policy.
What distinguishes Colorado Law from other law schools is our unparalleled history and commitment to American Indian law, our top notch-faculty of five full-time professors in the field, and our relationships with tribes and tribal organizations, all of which provide students with a comprehensive, supportive, and rigorous academic experience. Students enjoy a very close relationship with our American Indian Law faculty who mentor students through research and scholarship opportunities, pro bono work, and a fellowship with the American Indian Law Program. Our Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) is extremely active, with recent top finishes at the National NALSA Moot Court Competition, an annual Fall Harvest Feast, and other educational and social events throughout the year. In all of these ways, American Indian Law is thriving at Colorado Law. We hope you will join us!
Colorado Law's full-time faculty are nationally recognized experts in American Indian Law.
Colorado Law offers an American Indian Law Certificate demonstrating the completion of a concentrated course of study in the legal issues facing Native peoples and American Indian tribes. This Certificate is attractive to legal, tribal, and governmental employers, as well as employers seeking to do business with tribes and tribal members.
Certificate requirements include: (1) at least 92 credit hours (89 is required for the J.D.), and (2) at least 18 of the 92 credit hours in designated Indian law and related courses. Visit Rules of the Law School for complete details.
To register for the American Indian Law Certificate, please complete the following steps:
(1) Consult with the Director of the American Indian Law Program (Professor Carla Fredericks) about your planned selection of courses;
(2) Complete the registration form when registering for your second year of law school. Please indicate the classes you plan to take for the Certificate. You are not bound to the plan you submit, and there is no penalty (other than not receiving the Certificate) for failing to complete the program;
Note: We strongly encourage submitting this form when you register for your second year. It helps both you and us to plan for your successful completion of the program. However, you can still receive the Certificate if you submit this form late but complete the required coursework.
(3) By March 15 (or November 1) of your graduation semester, confirm that you will earn the Certificate by re-submitting the form with updated information.
Required courses after the first year (14 credits):
From the American Indian Law Curriculum
From the Environment and Natural Resources Law Curriculum
From the Government and Public Law Curriculum
From the Litigation, Negotiation, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Curriculum
From the Business & Commercial Law Curriculum
From the International and Comparative Law Curriculum
From the Labor & Employment Curriculum
From the Property, Trusts and Estates & Land Use Curriculum
From the Family & Juvenile Justice Curriculum
From the Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, and Social Policy Curriculum
From the Research & Writing Curriculum
From the Intellectual Property, Technology, and Telecommunications Curriculum
The American Indian Law Clinic, established in 1992 as one of the first of its kind, provides quality legal representation to low-income clients with specific Indian law related problems. Many in the Denver region have limited access to legal assistance and that access is further restricted when the issue involves Indian law. They have nowhere to turn when certain rights, some guaranteed by treaty, are denied. The Clinic’s student attorneys provide hundreds of hours of pro bono legal work to assist these people with direct legal assistance when possible, or by acting as a referral source when unable to help directly.
During this yearlong course, students receive classroom instruction and hands-on experience regarding Indian law issues, focused primarily on Colorado cases and projects that have a uniquely Indian law dimension. “Uniquely Indian law” issues are addressed by that body of law that concerns the status of Indian tribes and regulates the legal relationship between them, the federal government, the states and their citizens—commonly known as federal Indian law. All cases accepted and projects undertaken by the Clinic involve issues of federal Indian law or the law of a particular tribe. Student attorneys handle cases under the supervision of a licensed attorney, the American Indian Law Clinic Director.
Colorado Law students provide valuable legal advocacy research, writing, and education to individuals, the tribal courts, and tribal communities.
The American Indian Law Clinic seeks out opportunities to expand its legal services to the Native American community in critical areas. In addition to the representation of Native Americans and tribes, the Clinic has undertaken the following projects:
The Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) of CU is a student association of Native American law students as well as non-Native law students interested in Federal Indian Law and Native issues in general.
The purpose of NALSA is threefold:
1. To promote an awareness of Native American issues at the law school and greater CU campus;
2. To develop a community atmosphere for Native American law students;
3. To organize activities that will enrich the law school experience and assist NALSA members in their career development.
Law students can get involved with NALSA by attending monthly membership meetings and joining NALSA's TWEN site on Westlaw. NALSA officers coordinate events to promote awareness of American Indian issues at the lawschool as well as in the United States. NALSA officers also fundraise for those events and act as NALSA representatives at law school and non-law school functions. NALSA members may form committees to fundraise, organize events and compete in National NALSA Moot Court as well as attend the annual Federal Bar Association's Indian Law Conference.
Every year in September, NALSA hosts a social for the incoming students to meet the current NALSA membership. In early November, NALSA also sponsors the Fall Harvest Feast, a Native American community potluck for law students, members of the Colorado Indian Bar Association (CIBA) and Native American community members. NALSA has also participated in National NALSA Moot Court, the Federal Bar Association's Indian Law Conference, the Denver March Pow Wow, and the annual CIBA Red Rock Ramble fundraiser. In 2009, CU NALSA co-hosted the 17th Annual National NALSA Moot Court Competition with the University of Denver NALSA Chapter (the event was held at the Wolf Law Building).
Students serve as externs with local Indian law firms, non-profit entities serving the Native American community such as the Native American Rights Fund and Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, government agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tribal Programs, and the Southern Ute Tribal Court and Ute Mountain Tribe. Students also work under the guidance of Colorado Law faculty on American Indian and tribal law research issues while providing much-needed legal work to those most in need.
The Colorado Indian Bar Association vigorously raises funds to provide scholarships to individuals studying American Indian law at Colorado Law. The American Indian Graduate Center posts fellowship opportunities for law students.
Each year the American Indian Law Program appoints a student or recent graduate as the AILP Fellow to work on program administration, student recruiting, events, research, and pro bono projects in American Indian law.
American Indian Law Program Community Events & News
Save the Date for our 2017 Conference Celebrating the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
American Indian Law Program Newsletter
Spring 2016 - .pdf
"Celebrating 45 Years of NARF: Respecting Our Past, Building the Future"
Thursday, November 5, 2015
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NALSA Distinguished Speaker: Martha King
"The Modern Practice of Federal Indian Law: Operating in and From Tribal Spaces"
Monday November 10, 2014, 6:00 pm -7:00 pm
Repatriation Lecture by Edward Halealoha Aya '89
October 10, 2013
"People of the Shining Mountains: Legal Past, Present, and Future of the Ute Tribes"
April 4-5, 2013
Reconciliation in the U.S. In Light of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"
James S. Anaya, U.N. Special Rappateur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
January 25, 2013
Media Reports on the U.N. Special Rapporteur's Visit to Colorado Law: