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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA hosts unusual law program

    The UA is one of three universities in the nation to offer a program combining a law degree with an education in American Indian studies.

    The American Indian Policy and Law program, which accepts six to 12 students a year, is extremely competitive and nationally recognized as being one of the best in a highly specialized field, said Robert Williams, director of the program.

    “”We generally get very eager applicants who have a background in working with indigenous people and law,”” Williams said, adding that the program has drawn students from six different continents.

    One of its strengths is that it prepares graduates to work with American Indian rights, and particularly with members of reservations, Williams said.

    “”They hit the ground running,”” he said. “”It is a great program for the Native-American community because it provides people specialized in that field and it often offers them something they didn’t have before.””

    Students take on a heavy workload to meet this purpose, including a year or two to achieve a master’s degree, plus three years to obtain a Juris Doctor, said Beverly Larson, an administrative secretary for the Graduate College’s American Indian Studies program.

    The effort was worth it for Lorinda Mall, a member of the Cherokee Indian tribe, a native Hawaiian and a graduate of the program.

    “”Your first year you study Native-American studies and it gets those ideas in your head,”” Mall said. “”Then when you go to the J.D. program you are there for three years of law school and you take courses that are Native-American-focused.””

    Having six or seven professors with a specific field of study made learning easier, she said.

    “”There is so much you can do with this – like right now I am practicing law,”” Mall said. “”(The) UA has a better Native-American studies program. They are top-ranked nationally, and the professors they have here are more than the two or three in the Native-American studies department most places offer.””

    Arizona State University and the Tulsa Law School at the University of Oklahoma offer programs similar to the one at UA.

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