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67 Fed. Law. 15 (2020)
In the Pursuit of Inclusion and Fundamental Fairness: Native Americans and Judicial Clerkships

handle is hein.barjournals/fedlwr0067 and id is 89 raw text is: 

                                                                                            Diversity  Inclusion

In the Pursuit of Inclusion and

Fundamental Fairness: Native

Americans and Judicial Clerkships

by  Christine  J. Jordan

Christine J. Jordan is a
member of the Blackfeet
Nation and a descendent
of the Pueblo of Isleta. She
an adjunct professor at the
Mitchell Hamline School of
Law. Jordan is member of
the FBA Diversity & Inclusion
Task Force, a board member
of the Minnesota American
Indian BarAssociation, and a
member of the PLSJudicial
Clerkship Committee. She
earned her J.D. and Indian
Law Certificate from the
University of New Mexico
School of Law.

To further the pursuit of justice in the United States,
it is vital that Native Americans' are included in the
important work of the judiciary. As former FBA
President Lawrence Baca stated, It is crucial to the
acceptance of a justice system that any people see
themselves as participants in it, not just the recipients
of its outcome. Fundamental fairness in any legal
system must also have the appearance of fairness that
comes with the inclusion of all races.2
   The appearance of fairness is difficult to achieve
when there are very few Native Americans currently
sitting on the bench in both federal and state courts.
At the federal level, there are only two sitting judges
among  the overall history of four Native Americans
appointed to the federal judiciary. In Minnesota, there
is only one Native American state district court judge
on the bench and one Native American woman on the
Minnesota Supreme Court.3 Recently, the governor
of Washington appointed the first Native American
woman  to sit on the state Supreme Court.4
   In addition, the number of enrolled Native law
students is concerning. In 2018, Native Americans and
Alaska Natives accounted for only .56% of enrolled law
students in American Bar Association (ABA)-accred-
ited law schools, while Native Hawaiian law students
made up only .17%.' Despite these statistics, Native
Americans must persevere in their efforts to learn and
participate in the judiciary. By seeking out judicial
clerkships, Native American law students and attor-
neys can gain invaluable knowledge of the judiciary
that will assist them in practice and possibly lead to a
seat on the bench.

Native American  Law Clerks
Many  students who pursue clerkship opportunities
fall under the typical law review-moot court top 10
percent of their class criteria for judicial clerkships,
and some of these students are indeed Native Amer-
ican. Students who do not follow this path, however,
are still gaining the support, experience, and knowl-

edge to become exceptional candidates for judicial
clerkships. It is recommended that judges consider
hiring judicial clerks with diverse backgrounds and
experiences from a variety of law schools to increase
clerkship opportunities for Native Americans. Judges
at the state and federal levels took this approach when
hiring their clerks and provided incredible opportuni-
ties for the following Native practitioners.

Forrest Tahdooahnippah
Forrest Tahdooahnippah, a partner at Dorsey Whitney
LLP  and president of the Minnesota American Indian
Bar Association, followed his own path to obtain a
judicial clerkship. From 2010-2012, he clerked for
Judge Ann Montgomery  of the U.S. District Court for
the District of Minnesota. A member of the Coman-
che Nation, Forrest was one of three Native American
law students in his class at the University of Minnesota
Law  School, and he does not recall receiving any tar-
geted encouragement to seek out clerkships from the
law school's faculty. Forrest's mentors at Dorsey Whit-
ney-former  judicial clerks-shared their experiences
with him and encouraged him to apply for clerkships.
Forrest did not follow the path of judicial externships
or edit his school's law review. Instead, he clerked
for law firms as a student and participated in the law
school's moot court program. As a result, Forrest was
well prepared for his clerkship in Judge Montgomery's
chambers. When  I started my clerkship, I was just as
prepared as the other judicial clerks and I was confi-
dent in my skill set. His clerkship helped him discover
his current area of practice-intellectual property law.
While clerking, I was able to explore multiple areas of
law that I had not previously encountered.

Elisabeth Guard
Presently, Elisabeth Guard, a member of the Mitchell
Bay Band of Indians and descendant of the Swinomish
Indian Community, is one of the attorneys fortunate
to clerk in Hon. Diane Humetewa's chambers in the

     March/April 2020-            4 `: ..ER '.E.-15

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