Skip to main content

Professor Aliza Organick

Aliza Organick

Professor of Law
Associate Dean of Experiential Learning

B.U.S. 1992, University of New Mexico
J.D. 1996, University of New Mexico School of Law
Member of the New Mexico Bar

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-4140
 Office: 3417


Aliza Organick, a citizen of the Diné Nation, born to the Tsenijikini Clan (Cliff Dweller Clan), joined the University of New Mexico School of Law (UNM) in August, 2012 where she currently teaches in the clinical law program.  Prior to joining the faculty at UNM, Professor Organick taught at Washburn University School of Law from 2004 to 2012.  At Washburn, she brought her expertise in clinical legal education, tribal court practice, and criminal defense in Indian Country. While at Washburn, Professor Organick created the Tribal and State Court Practice clinic section with its focus on representing Native clients in Kansas tribal courts.

Professor Organick earned her J.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1996. Immediately following her graduation from law school, she co-founded the Miners’ Legal Resource Center (MLRC), which was funded by grants from the Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale and the Berkley Law Foundation.  MLRC provided basic access to legal advocacy and diagnostic health care services for coal and uranium miners in the Four Corners region of the southwest United States, including the Navajo Reservation.  She also received an Echoing Green Public Service Fellowship for her work on that project.

Professor Organick is the co-founder and co-organizer of the Indian Law Clinics and Externship Symposium which takes place annually in Indian Country. The goal of this symposium is to create a pedagogy and methodology for training law students to practice law among Native people in Indigenous communities. She has organized and presented at numerous conferences and continuing legal education programs, including those that focus on developing expertise in the practice of law in tribal court settings. Professor Organick was an invited presenter on the Indigenous Stream at the Society of Legal Scholars Annual conference at De Montfort University in Leicester, United Kingdom in 2009 and in 2011 she was a plenary speaker at the Transforming Legal Education Annual Conference hosted by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia where she spoke on the challenges of introducing legal theory into clinical practice.

Professor Organick is a past Chair of the American Association of Law School’s section on Indian Nations and Indigenous Peoples. She currently serves on the Board of the National Native American Bar Association. She is admitted to practice in New Mexico, the Federal District Court for the District of New Mexico, and the Prairie Band Potawatomi District Court, Kickapoo Tribal Court, and Iowa Nation Tribal Court.

Community Lawyering Clinic

Pre-requisite: Completion of first year curriculum. Pre- or co-requisite: Ethics.

Summer 2013--Prof. Aliza Organick, Prof. Sarah Steadman
Fall 2013--Prof. Yael Cannon, Prof. Sarah Steadman
Spring 2014--Prof. Carol Suzuki, Prof. Camille Carey

The Community Lawyering Clinic provides outreach legal services in partnership with local community service providers, including non-legal disciplines.  Through the Medical/Legal Alliance for Children (MLAC) the Clinic has entered into a strategic alliance (the nation’s first) with the Pediatrics Department of the UNM Health Sciences Center.  MLAC law students represent children, caregivers, and families to address non-biological factors affecting children’s health including food, housing, education, physical safety (domestic violence), caregivers’ relationships and conflicts over custodial rights, immigration status, involvement in the criminal justice system, and availability of healthcare and other benefits.  Students represent clients in Family Court, Children’s Court (juvenile delinquency), and other venues as necessary.  In addition to the MLAC, the Community Lawyering Clinic collaborates with PB&J Family Services, the NM Public Defender and organizations serving families of incarcerated and addicted individuals, seniors, and HIV-positive people.  Students work under law professor supervision and on interdisciplinary teams when appropriate.  Clients include speakers of English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

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.

Students having specific questions about the Community Lawyering Clinic are encouraged to visit with Profs. Cannon, Carey, Organick, Steadman, or Suzuki.

Law Practice Clinic

Pre-requisite: Completion of first year curriculum, Pre-or-co-requisite: Ethics

Summer 2013--Prof. Steven Homer
Fall 2013--Prof. April Land
Spring 2014--Prof. Aliza Organick

The Law Practice Clinic will emphasize the development of professional skills and values by assigning students to represent clients in a variety of both civil and criminal cases.  In their casework, students will be individually and closely supervised in their representation of low-income clients.  Each student will be assigned a mix of cases typical of a general law practice in New Mexico with some opportunity for a more specialized type of practice taking into account each student's preferences and career plans, available faculty resources and client and community needs.  Among other practice areas, case matters may involve juvenile delinquency defense, family law, criminal misdemeanor defense, landlord/tenant, contract disputes, wills and immigration.  The Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters will provide more focus in the area of juvenile delinquency and criminal defense.  The emphasis on student casework is to give law students direct experience with live clients and real cases and to provide close individual and collaborative faculty supervision.  In addition to providing real world experience, students are encouraged to develop and explore the professional dimensions of client-oriented problem solving.  Students are expected to develop and assume full professional responsibility for competent, professional and ethical decision-making in helping their clients solve their legal problems.

The classroom component seeks to help prepare students to represent his or her clients competently, to promote professionalism in dealing with clients, lawyers, staff and others; and to provide experience in individual and collaborative problem solving.  Classroom sessions include discussion of pending clinic cases and assigned readings; role-play and simulation; and collaborative planning and evaluation.  The classroom component typically addresses such skills and topics as:  client interviewing and counseling, case evaluation, legal research, fact investigation, drafting documents and correspondence, motion practice, discovery, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, procedure, case management, law office management, the use of computer technology in the law office, and professional responsibility and ethics.

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.

Students having any questions about this clinic are encouraged to visit with Profs. Homer, Land, or Organick.

Articles in Law Reviews and Other Scholarly Journals

"Reassessing Concurrent Tribal-State-Federal Criminal Jurisdiction in Kansas," 59 The Kansas Law Review 949 (co-author with John J. Francis, Stacy L. Leeds, & Jelani Jefferson Exum) (2011). [189 KB PDF]

"Listening to Indigenous Voices: What the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Means for U.S. Tribes," 16 U.C. Davis Journal of International Law & Policy 171 (2009).

"Tribal Law and Best Practices in Legal Education: Creating a New Path for the Study of Tribal Law," 19 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 63 (2009). [1.7 MB PDF]

"From Conflict to Cooperation: State and Tribal Court Relations in the Era of Self-Determination," 45 Court Review 48 (co-author with Tonya Kowalski) (2009). [105 KB PDF].

"Taking Voting Rights Seriously: Race and the Integrity of Democracy in America," 27 Northern Illinois University Law Review 427 (co-author with Steven Ramirez) (2007).

"Creating a Tribal Law Clinic in Kansas: Carving the Peg to Fit the Hole," 82 North Dakota Law Review 849 (2006). [736 KB PDF; requires Adobe Acrobat Reader]

Books and Monographs

The Tribal Court Practice Handbook: A Guide for Practitioners, Lay Advocates, Judicial Clerks, and Law School Clinics (co-author with Tonya Kowalski) (Textbook Series) (Carolina Academic Press, 2011).

Chapters in Books

"Holding Back the Tide: The Existing Indian Family Doctrine and its Continued Denial of the Right to Culture for Indigenous Children," in Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30 (Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel, Kathryn E. Fort, editors) (Michigan State University Press) (2009).
  -- See publisher's website for description and ordering information.

Other Publications

"Practicing Law In Tribal Courts: What Every Practitioner Should Know," YLS Forum, Winter 2009, p. 6. [113 KB PDF; requires Adobe Acrobat Reader]

Recent Presentations

Plenary Speaker, "Introducing Indigenous Legal Theory into Clinical Practice," Australian National Conference on Clinical and Experiential Learning, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, September 7-9, 2011.

Panelist/Moderator, "Knowing, Thinking, Doing: A Discussion on Doctrine, Theory and Practice of Indigenous Law, Education, and the Clinical Experience," 5th Annual Indian Law Clinics & Externship Symposium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 5-7, 2011.

Visiting Scholar and Speaker, "Indigenous Legal Theory and Tribal Court Practice: Where the Rubber Meets the Road," and Panel Discussant, "Practicing Law in Tribal Courts," Native American Law Students Association, Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts, March 21 -22, 2011.

Panelist, "Native Thought and Philosophy in Tribal Courts," Cultivating Native Intellect and Philosophy: A Community Symposium Recognizing and Discussing the Contributions of Christine Zuni Cruz, The Tribal Law Journal, University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 10, 2011.

Panelist, "Losing Sight of the Counter-Narrative: The Unintended Consequences of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010," Gender Justice and Indian Sovereignty: Native American Women and the Law, 10th Anniversary Women and the Law Conference, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, February 18, 2011.

Continuing Legal Education Program, Washburn Law Clinic 40th Anniversary Celebration, Washburn University School of Law, Topeka, Kansas, October 23, 2010.

"Tribal Response to Passage of Law and Order Act," The Future Following Passage of the Tribal Law & Order Act of 2010, 41st Annual National American Indian Court Judges Association's Conference, Green Bay, Wisconsin, October 27, 2010 (presented via video uplink).

"Re-envisioning Tribal and State Relationships: The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a Blueprint?" International Law: Future Impacts on the Tribal-Federal Relationship, University of Tulsa College of Law, Tulsa, Oklahoma, October 8, 2010.

Panelist, "Indian Law Clinics – Where are we now? Challenges and Successes of Established Programs," Borderland or Hinterland? The Role of specialty clinics In Legal Education, Fourth Annual Indian Law Clinics & Externship Programs Symposium, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 21, 2010.

Welcome Address and Organizer, "Borderland or Hinterland? The Role of specialty clinics In Legal Education," Fourth Annual Indian Law Clinics & Externship Programs Symposium, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 20-21, 2010.

Roundtable Discussant, "The Kansas Act and Recent Case Decisions Impacting Tribal Court Jurisdiction," 10th Annual Native Nations Law Symposium, Mayetta, Kansas, February 12, 2010.

Law School News