Native Amicus Briefing Project

Harvard NALSA is the Harvard home for the a branch of the Native Amicus Briefing Project (NAB), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a greater understanding of federal Indian law in the federal courts as well as in the legal community at large.

NAB ensures that its goals are met through a unique two part system, driven by a dedicated volunteer network of attorneys, legal scholars, and law students, including members of the Harvard Law School community who have participated in both parts of the project. Student research and writing are supervised by attorneys and involvement in the Briefing Program provides law students hands-on experience in the federal litigation process. If you are interested in getting involved in the Harvard team of the Native Amicus Briefing Project, please contact us at

Tracking Program

Law student groups, or Tracking Teams, identify, analyze, and summarize cases in the lower federal courts that are pertinent to Indian Country.  Each Tracking Team is trained and overseen by an attorney supervisor.  Tracking Teams identify cases involving Indian law issues by searching dockets nationwide using Bloomberg.  Once identified, under the supervision of a NAB attorney, the students prepare a summary of each case, which is added to NAB’s Tracking Wiki, and continue to monitor future litigation in the case.  The Tracking Wiki serves two essential functions.  First, it provides centralized, easy-to-access information on pending Indian law cases in the lower federal courts, and, second, it allows the Briefing Program to determine which of these cases may require amicus support from NAB.  Through the Tracking Program, students learn the building blocks of litigation while summarizing, analyzing, and recommending cases for potential amicus support.

Briefing Program

Through a process called Crowdbriefing that combines the efforts of pro bono attorneys, NAB’s managing board, NAB’s advisory board, and law students, NAB is able to provide Amicus support to cases quickly and efficiently.  With recommendations from the Tracking Program and outside referrals, the managing board and advisory board identify and evaluate cases that they believe are in need of amicus support.  Once a case is selected, the board then divides the case into separate research questions and drafting assignments and identifies specialists from NAB’s pro bono attorney network who can best contribute to those assignments.  We call this process Crowdbriefing.  The board and its assembled team of lawyers and law students work together to research and draft an amicus brief for that case.  Once a brief is completed, our network of editorial support engages in cite checking, proofreading, and bluebooking before the managing board submits the brief to the court.  This Briefing Program offers law students essential litigation training and hands-on experience with the litigation process.  Moreover, it provides an opportunity for pro bono attorneys to contribute in a meaningful way to Indian Country and the development of Indian law.




The Native Amicus Briefing Project is maintained and supported by a group of generous and dedicated attorneys, legal scholars, and law students.

Executive Director

Stephen Anstey is a Visiting Researcher in Harvard Law School’s Graduate Program. He holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. from the University of Connecticut. Anstey’s research and writing focuses on federal Indian Law, property law, contract law, and comparative international law. While attending the University of Michigan Law School, he served as Chairman of the Native American Law Students Association and clerked for Chief Judge Maldonado of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Managing Board

Maggie McKinley is a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. in linguistic anthropology from UCLA. McKinley clerked for Chief Judge James Ware of the Northern District of California as well as Judge Susan Graber of the Ninth Circuit and practiced civil litigation at Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, DC. McKinley researches and writes on legislation, theories of interpretation, minority rights and representation, the architecture of lawmaking institutions, and tax law and policy. Her work was awarded the Steven M. Block Civil Liberties Award for excellence in writing in the area of personal freedom. McKinley currently serves as co-principal investigator of the “Language of Lobbying” Project at the University of Chicago and as a collaborator with the North American Petitions Project at the Harvard Department of Government.  Her mother is an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa (Fond du Lac Band) and her father is Irish Catholic from the Bronx.

Seth Davis is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University Of California Irvine School Of Law. He holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School where he was awarded the John Ordronaux Prize, and a M.Sc. in social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He clerked for Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was a litigation associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. During his time at O’Melveny, he developed an active pro bono practice representing Indian Tribes and intertribal organizations in appellate litigation. Professor Davis is also a co-author on the forthcoming 2015 supplement to Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.

Jacqueline De Leon is an Associate at WilmerHale. She holds a J.D. from Stanford and a B.A. from Princeton University. De Leon clerked for Judge William H. Walls of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey and Chief Justice Dana Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court. In the summer of 2009 she was a legal intern in the Office of Tribal Justice at the US Department of Justice. Prior to beginning her legal career, De Leon was a program associate at the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center.

Laura Jacobsen is an associate at McDonald Carano Wilson practicing civil litigation. She has served as a law clerk to the Hon. Edward C. Reed, Jr. of the US District Court for the District of Nevada and as a judicial extern to the Hon. Brian E. Sandoval (now Governor of Nevada). She graduated from Stanford Law School in 2011, where she served as Vice-President of NALSA and Lead Articles Editor of the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Prior to law school, Ms. Jacobsen interned at the Cherokee Nation Washington Office and the Office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Tom Pack is an Associate at Gibson Dunn. He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from East Central University. While at Stanford, Pack represented non-profit organizations and an Indian tribe in the Environmental Law Clinic. He also served as President of the Native American Law Students Association. Before joining Gibson Dunn, Pack worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving in a variety of capacities relating to rural, American Indian, and Alaska Native health.

Noah Smith-Drelich holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.S. from Stanford University, and a B.A. from Williams College. He clerked for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to law school, Smith-Drelich served as an English Teacher at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, South Dakota.

Advisory Board

Kristen Carpenter is Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Colorado Law School. At Colorado Law, Professor Carpenter teaches courses in Property, Cultural Property, American Indian Law, and Indigenous Peoples in International Law. Professor Carpenter has been awarded the Provost’s Award for Faculty Achievement and the Outstanding New Faculty Award. She served as a director of the American Indian Law Program from 2012-2014 and as Associate Dean for Faculty Development from 2011-2013. Professor Carpenter previously served on the board of the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Section and Colorado Indian Bar Association. Professor Carpenter is also active in pro bono work on American Indian cultural and religious freedoms.

John Dossett serves as General Counsel of the National Congress of American Indians. He holds a J.D. from Lewis and Clark University and a B.A. from Trinity University.

Matthew Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is the Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement, Third, The Law of American Indians. Professor Fletcher sits as the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Grand Traverse Band, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, the Lower Elwha Tribe, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska. With David Getches, Charles Wilkinson, and Robert Williams, Professor Fletcher co-authored the sixth edition of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law (Thomson West 2011). Professor Fletcher is the primary editor and author of a leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk.

Richard Guest is a staff Attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. Prior to joining the Native American Rights Fund, Guest was a Senior Associate with Troutman Sanders LLP in their Indian law practice, focusing on environmental issues, energy projects, economic development, financial institutions and telecommunications services in Indian country. Prior to going to Washington, D.C., he served as the on-reservation tribal attorney for the Skokomish Indian Tribe and worked as an associate attorney at Morisset, Schlosser, Jozwiak and McGaw in Seattle, Washington.

Justin Richland is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College at the University of Chicago.  From 2005-2009, he served as Justice Pro Tempore of the Hopi Appellate Court, the highest court of the Hopi Nation. Professor Richland is founding Chairman of the Board of The Nakwatsvewat Institute, Inc. a non-profit organization offering social justice services to Native nations in the US. He currently serves as Co-Editor of PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, the journal of the Association of Political and Legal Anthropologists.

Angela Riley is Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law and Director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center. She is also the Director of UCLA’s J.D./M.A. joint degree program in Law and American Indian Studies. Professor Riley is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma and serves as Co-Chair for the United Nations – Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership Policy Board.

Wenona Singel is an Associate Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and the Associate Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center.  Professor Singel serves as the Chief Appellate Justice for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and formerly served as the Chief Appellate Judge for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. From 2006-2009, she served as President and Board Member of the Michigan Indian Judicial Association. On March 29, 2012, the United States Senate passed by unanimous consent President Barack Obama’s nomination of Singel to serve as a member of the Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. Professor Singel is also an elected member of the American Law Institute, where she is the Co-Reporter.

One thought on “Native Amicus Briefing Project”

  1. Dear NALSA,

    I would like to bring to your attention a mystery. The Indian Trust Settlement is supposed to provide upwards of $60 million in scholarship funds for Native Americans. The Trust website says that this money is being distributed by the American Indian College Fund (AICF), but the AICF say they aren’t and to contact the Dept. of the Interior. The DOI says they’ve transferred between $4.5million to the AICF and there is no information anywhere online about this money. I wanted to apply for a scholarship for my son, and now I am wondering where millions of trust money for Native Americans has disappeared to. There is nothing on the internet about this mystery, but it worries me that the US is somehow stealing the money back. I’ve tried contacting the DOI and gotten no where. Since Native American students at Harvard might benefit from these funds, I am wondering if you might be able to look into this on behalf of all US Native Americans. It might make a good class project for students.

    Here is the limited information I was able to find:

    Thank you,

    Sonja Rouillard
    Santee Sioux Tribal Member

Comments are closed.