Southwest Indian Law Clinic

Southwest Indian Law Clinic

Pre-requisite: Completion of first year curriculum and a qualifying Indian Law course. Students will not be enrolled without the pre-requisite Indian law course. Pre-or-co-requisite: Ethics

Summer 2013--Prof. Barbara Creel
Fall 2013--Prof. Barbara Creel
Spring 2014--Prof. Christine Zuni Cruz

Background –The Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC) provides high quality legal representation and clinical practice experience in Indian Country.  SILC is pro-active in the advocacy, promotion and establishment of indigenous people’s rights.  SILC students may represent individual clients and/or tribal groups or Indian communities.  Through representation, students may be exposed to issues arising from historical oppression, poverty and under-representation, and other issues related to culture, race and socio-economic status in the legal system.   Students are taught to approach legal solutions premised on tribal sovereignty, cultural rights or traditional internal law, as well as general legal principles.

Type of Case Work – The type of case work depends largely on the existing caseload and new case intake, but the Clinic experience is also driven by individual student interest and energy. 

The Southwest Indian Law Clinic handles cases arising under federal, state or tribal law. Students may have opportunities to appear in all courts and to assist clients in access and use of tribal traditional dispute resolution in their community.  SILC cases allow students to engage in vigorous defense, active motion practice and extensive brief writing.  These cases typically involve people that would go without representation, but for SILC. 

Clients – Potential clients come from the outlying and nearby Pueblos and tribal communities, and the urban Indian population.  In addition to serving walk-in clients, SILC may provide legal services or intake at community intake sites in and around Albuquerque.  Students may also engage in project work with tribal governments, non-profit organizations and non-governmental Indian organizations. 

Clinic Class and Office hours –  Students will be required (1) to attend and actively participate in up to five classroom sessions (ten during summer’s first three weeks) during each week of the academic semester and (2) to maintain, in addition to classroom hours, a schedule of 24 (2-hours block) fixed office hours (physically present in the clinic, working on clinic matters) each week during Summer, or 16 (2-hours block) fixed office hours each week during Fall and Spring semesters.

Classroom learning complements and supports both the high quality representation and professionalism in all dealings with clients, staff, supervisors, the judiciary, opposing parties and others.  Classroom discussions of pending cases and assigned readings; role-play and simulation; and cultural and racial literacy exercises enable students to practice and gain confidence in skills such as, client interviewing and counseling, advocacy, and communication.

Questions about the Southwest Indian Law Clinic?  Please feel free to visit with Profs. Creel or Zuni Cruz.  Have a great Clinic experience!