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Hilary Tompkins has become the first Native American to be confirmed as solicitor of the U.S. Department of Interior. She was an adjunct professor at the UNM School of Law when President Barack Obama nominated her to the post and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 17.
As solicitor, she is the chief general counsel and represents the department in administrative and judicial litigation and meetings, negotiations and other contracts with Congress, federal agencies, states, tribes and the public.
Prior to teaching State and Tribal Relations during the spring semester, Tompkins was chief counsel to Gov. Bill Richardson from 2003-2008, during which she advised him on legal and policy issues, including legislation, judicial appointments, executive orders, constitutional authority, civil litigation, statutory interpretation and intergovernmental affairs. She also managed the legal staff in the Governor's Office, supervised the general counsels in more than 20 state executive agencies and advised the governor on Native American affairs.
“I welcome Hilary to our policy team and look forward to her counsel and leadership in helping us fulfill Interior’s broad mandate, from managing federal land, water and energy resources, to conserving endangered species, to building a better future for American Indian and Native Alaska communities,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “She is an outstanding professional with strong legal and managerial skills and will make an excellent Solicitor.”
Tompkins began her law career as an honor program trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where she handled civil prosecutions in environmental cases nationwide. She also served as a special assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, NY, where she was lead counsel for a number of civil lawsuits in federal court.
She was born in Zuni and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She was adopted at birth by a Quaker family and raised in southern New Jersey. She received her J.D. from Stanford University in 1996 and her B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1990.