Pablo Padilla was born and raised in Zuni Pueblo. He received his bachelor of arts degree in government from Harvard University in 1997 and his Juris Doctor in 2005 from the University of New Mexico School of Law, with an Indian Law Certificate and Natural Resources Law Certificate. While in law school Padilla was co-student editor-in-chief of the Natural Resources Journal and president of the Native American Law Students Association.
From May 2005 to April 2009, Padilla was an associate attorney at the Nordhaus Law Firm, one of the oldest law firms in the United States dedicated to the representation of Indian tribes and organizations.
Before law school, he served in various capacities with the Pueblo of Zuni, including as program director of the Zuni Environmental Protection Program and as an executive assistant for the Zuni Tribal Council.
In 2003 and while in law school, Padilla clerked for Environmental Defense in Boulder, CO, where he researched the legal and political barriers to off-reservation tribal water transfers and interstate marketing of water in the Colorado River. As a legal assistant in the Office of the Chairman for the All Indian Pueblo Council, he developed a plan to restructure the numerous chartered entities of AIPC and represented the AIPC chairman on a team that drafted language to amend the Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 to resolve a long-standing jurisdiction issue.
Padilla currently practices law at the Padilla Law Firm, where he focuses on federal Indian law and tribal law issues. He is board member of the Indian Law Section of the New Mexico Bar, vice chairman of the Native American Resources Committee of the American Bar Association's Energy and Natural Resources Section, board member of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Member of the Native American Advisory Group to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and Fellow at the Leadership Institute at the Santa Fe Indian School. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife and two boys.