Specializing in Indian Law

All students at the University of New Mexico School of Law are eligible to participate in the Indian Law Certificate (ILC) Program, which was developed in response to a growing need nationwide for lawyers trained in Indian law. The program prepares students to work with tribes, Indian clients and the federal government.

Students pursuing the certificate must complete 21 hours of Indian Law coursework, including both academic study and practical experience, as part of their J.D. requirements. ILC students must maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average in courses that count toward the certificate.

UNM law students have until the spring semester of their second year to enroll in the program and they must also complete all other graduation requirements.

The 21-hour requirement can be met by successfully completing the following components:

Required Courses (6 hours)

  • Indian Law
  • Federal Jurisdiction

Additional Indian Law Courses (6–9 hours)

  • Native American Rights
  • Law of Indigenous Peoples
  • Economic Development in Indian Country
  • Indian Tax
  • Indian Gaming
  • Native Land Rights and Claims
  • Indian Water Law
  • Conflicts of Indian Law
  • Native American Moot Court Competition

Courses on the environment, natural resources, managing native lands, and other topics are available on an as-scheduled basis.

Experiential Training (3–6 hours)

  • Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC)
  • Law Office Externship

Graduate Level Non-Law Courses (3 hours optional)

Any selection from UNM Native American Studies courses that focuses on American Indians. These courses must be approved each semester by the ILC Program advisers.

Writing Requirement

This requirement must be met by enrolling in an Indian Law writing seminar or by arranging with a full-time L&IPP faculty member to write a substantial research paper on a federal Indian law or tribal law topic.

Dual Completion of the Natural Resources Certificate

It is possible for students to obtain an Indian Law Certificate and a Natural Resources Certificate by selecting courses that meet the requirements for both certificates. Before enrolling in the ILC program, students should carefully read the course descriptions.


Questions about the ILC program should be directed to Program Administrator Mitzi Vigil at 277-0405.