nnaba National Native American Bar Association logo

On Tuesday, I had the pleasure to meet with Mary Smith, lawyer and Immediate Past President of the National Native American Bar Association.

The specific reason we met was to tape a CLE Snippet, “a unique opportunity to hear directly from the author of an article in the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine.”

The topic of our conversation: a recent groundbreaking survey of Native American lawyers, available here.

Last April, I attended the annual Indian Law Conference of the Federal Bar Association, held in Scottsdale. There were some terrific panels, but I was particularly interested in a report about the first-ever survey of Native attorneys.

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Panelists for April 9, 2015, “Strength in Numbers: Native Attorneys from Pre-Law to Practice,” L to R: Helen B. Padilla, Director, American Indian Law Center, Inc.; Mary L. Smith, Special Counsel and Estate Trust Officer, Office of the Special Deputy Receiver, and then-President, National Native American Bar Association; Dr. Arin Reeves, CEO, President, Nextions; Makalika Naholowaa, Attorney, Microsoft Corporation; and Francine M. Jaramillo, Staff Attorney, American Indian Law Center, Inc. (Photo by Federal Bar Association)

Mary presented on the survey along with a great panel. The early reports about the survey were that it explored subjects that previously have been shared openly too little. The ultimate survey results more than bore that out. At the conference and afterward, I spoke with Mary about sharing a summary of the results in Arizona Attorney. She kindly agreed, and her article is in the September magazine.

When we met, Mary was kind enough to indulge our tradition of a photo:

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

Attorney Mary Smith and Arizona Attorney Editor Tim Eigo, August 25, 2015.

In my videotaped dialogue with Mary Smith, I mentioned how impressed I was with the survey. Not only was the survey smart and the responses candid; the report also folded in numerous personal stories and compelling sidebars. I recommend the survey to anyone interested in improving the legal profession or in launching and reporting on survey results.

The videotape will be available here after September 1. I hope a few of you get to watch it, as well as the article on the topic in the September Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Coalition of Bar Associations 2013

L to R: Bill Simonitsch, NAPABA incoming President-Elect; Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, NNABA Immediate Past-President; Peter Reyes, Jr., HNMA National President; Linda Benally, NNABA President-Elect; Wendy Shiba, NAPABA President; Patricia Rosier, NBA President-Elect; and Miguel Alexander Pozo, HNBA National President-Elect.

Recently, I heard from numerous bar leaders about a noteworthy event that occurred in Washington, DC—and that has implications for Arizona.

This past month, an annual gathering of the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color occurred. A press release describes it below. It’s worth noting that Arizona lawyers take a leadership rolw in the organization.

The Coalition “was established in 1992 and is comprised of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA).”

I have also heard conversation about the possibility of the NNABA moving its national headquarters to Arizona. I have followed up on that and hope to share news from NNABA leaders as details firm up.

Here is the announcement about the annual meeting:

Coalition Of Bar Associations Holds Annual Meeting

Meets With White House Officials and Congressional Representatives to

Address Issues Affecting Communities of Color

WASHINGTON – This week, the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC) gathered in Washington, DC, for its Annual Meeting. CBAC’s leaders discussed key issues affecting communities of color, including immigration reform, voter suppression, and judicial vacancies. This year’s Annual Meeting included visits with key executive branch officials and members of Congress, including meetings with U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, and high-level staffers from the offices of Senators Patrick Leahy, Orin Hatch, and Marco Rubio.

CBAC was established in 1992 and is comprised of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the National Bar Association (NBA), and the National Native American Bar Association (NNABA). CBAC meets annually every spring so that leaders from its member organizations can discuss issues of mutual concern and advocate in support of their shared interests.

“We will continue to work with Congress and the White House to find solutions to issues of concern for the benefit of our country, including the dire need for immigration reform,” said Peter M. Reyes Jr., president of HNBA. “Our mission is to ensure that generations of future lawyers are given the opportunity to make a difference within their respective communities.”

“The CBAC annual meeting provides us with the opportunity to collaborate with other bar associations of color and put forth a collective effort to remain engaged on critical issues, particularly on diversifying the bench and bar,” said Patricia Rosier, president-elect of NBA and host of this year’s CBAC meeting. “For over 20 years, CBAC has demonstrated the importance of and need for our collective efforts and every year our message grows in clarity and strength.”

 “Our participation in CBAC provides a unique opportunity for NAPABA and the other national bars of color to collaborate on issues that are of critical importance to Asian Pacific Americans and all of our communities,” said Wendy C. Shiba, president of NAPABA. “We stand stronger together, and this week we collectively advocated for the confirmation of highly accomplished judicial candidates who would further diversify the federal bench, legislation and initiatives to combat human trafficking, and passage of commonsense immigration reform that emphasizes family unity and an earned pathway to citizenship.”

“The lack of knowledge about federal Indian law and tribal law affects how Native Americans fare in the federal court system,” said Linda Benally, president-elect of NNABA. “While NNABA applauds the recent confirmation of a Native Hawaiian to the federal bench, there currently is not a single Native American serving as an Article III judge. NNABA – working along with its CBAC partners – is committed to ensuring that opportunities are provided for Native Americans within the judiciary and the legal profession.”