Finding Legal Help
NILL provides Indian law research assistance but cannot offer legal advice. We are unable to recommend specific attorneys but hope that this guide will help identify legal services that are available. This web page does not represent a complete list of legal aid available. Local libraries might provide local directories of legal aid and lawyers.
See also: Requesting Legal Assistance from the Native American Rights Fund
Three Types of Indian Law Legal Assistance
1. Lawyers and Law Firms
Certain law firms specialize in Native American issues. While law firms may charge a premium for some services, they may also allow discounted, or even free, support for some services. Discounted or free service availability will generally depend on (1) the type of service, (2) situation of the client, or (3) availability of attorneys practicing pro bono work. (Pro bono is a Latin term meaning done without compensation for the public good. Lawyers are encouraged to provide free legal service by volunteering their time. Lawyers practicing pro bono work can be found through pro bono service directories.)
Consumers' Guide to Legal Help (American Bar Association)
Lawyer Directory – Native Peoples law (Find Law)
Indians and Native Populations Lawyer or Law Firm by State (Lawyers.com)
Tribal Law Lawyer or Law Firm by State (Lawyers.com)
Native American Attorney Profiles (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
Lawyer Locator Under Areas of Practice, choose Indians and Native Populations (Martindale Hubbell)
State Affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union
California Indian Legal Services
Guide to Colorado Legal Resources for Native Americans Includes information on Colorado law firms practicing Indian Law on page 11.
Washington State Tribal Referral List (January 2006, 2nd Edition, Northwest Indian Bar Association and Washington State Bar Association, Indian Law Section)
2. Legal Aid
Every state should have a legal aid service for groups and individuals who meet certain criteria. The support provided may vary from free to affordable/discounted rates. Colorado Legal Services, for instance, does not charge a fee so long as the client meets certain federal income guidelines.
Income eligibility for legal assistance: To find out if you may qualify for legal aid, check out the legal aid requirements set by the Legal Services Corporation. They establish maximum income levels for individuals eligible for legal assistance based on current Federal Poverty Guidelines. In addition the Legal Services Act provides that other specified factors shall be taken into account along with income. See the "Income Level for Individuals Eligible for Assistance" published in the Federal Register (Feburary 12, 2017 (Volume 82, Number 10442)).
Legal Service Providers by State, Pine Tree Legal Services
State Legal Aid Resources, FindLaw.com
Indian Law Resource Center
National Indian Justice Center
Legal Services Corporation -- Get Legal Assistance
National Indian Legal Services (Wisconsin Judicare, Inc. Indian Law Office)
Native American Program - Legal Aid Services of Oregon
Native American Disability Law Center provides advocacy, referral information, and educational resources to all Native Americans with a disability living anywhere in the Four Corners area.
If the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies to your case, see NICWA’s fact sheet “How to Find Free & Low-Cost Legal Assistance
3. Indian Law Clinics
Found at some law schools, Indian Law clinics provide law students with experience in Native American law, while providing legal services to tribes and low-income Native clients. Some clinics will work with tribal governments, courts, organizations, and attorneys. Other clinics will work with Native clients on Native issues, representing them in state, federal, tribal, and government hearings. Check the clinic near you for their practice guidelines.
These organizations are associated with university law schools; descriptions are often written for the prospective student. Contact the law clinic to learn more about available services. If a clinic is missing from the list, please contact us.
The Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook People Native American Indian Legal Clinic
Arizona: Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, University of Arizona
Indian Legal Clinic, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Arkansas: Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law
California: UCLA American Indian Studies Center
Colorado: American Indian Law Clinic, Univ. of Colorado Law School, (303) 492-8126
Tribal Wills Project, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Kansas: State Tribal Court Practice Clinic at Washburn University School of Law
Tribal Law and Government Center at the University of Kansas School of Law
Massachusetts: Indian Law and Indigenous Peoples Clinic, Suffolk University Law School
Mashpee Wampanoag Legal Services Clinic, UMass School of Law
Michigan: Indigenous Law Clinic, Indigenous Law & Policy Center, Michigan State University College of Law
Minnesota: Indian Child Welfare Act Clinic, University of Minnesota
Indian Law Clinic, William Mitchell College of Law
Montana: Various clinics, University of Montana
New Mexico: Southwest Indian Law Clinic, University of New Mexico
New York: Volunteer Lawyers Project, Buffalo Office at Native American Community Services
North Dakota: Northern Plains Indian Law Center, University of North Dakota
Northwest: Northwest Justice Project
Oklahoma: Jodi G. Marquette American Indian Wills Clinic at Oklahoma City University
Washington: Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, University of Washington
Indian Law Clinic, Gonzaga University School of Law
Wisconsin: Great Lakes Indian Law Center, University of Wisconsin