Indian Law Certificate Program Requirements
The Indian Law Certificate Program is designed to provide specialized instruction to students who are interested and invested in Indian law and who will seek to practice in an arena in which Indian law issues predominate or are central to the problems that the students will face. The law school recognizes the special and unique relevance these courses provide to a program of law for students intending to practice in North Dakota and across the northern plains.
The certificate program is open to all School of Law students who have completed the first year curriculum and are in good academic standing. The certificate program requires students to successfully complete a total of fifteen (15) credits as follows:
Two Required Courses - 5 Credits
Primary Courses - 7 or more Credits
Experiential Requirement - 3 Credits
15 Credit Minimum
Students may also petition the Director of the Indian Law Certificate to have an independent study or special project fulfill program requirements including primary course credit. Such requests will generally not be approved to replace required courses absent extraordinary circumstances.
Students interested in the certificate can also use certificate courses to fulfill other graduation requirements simultaneously. Indian Country Environmental Law will, from the 2017-2018 school year going forward, fulfill the intensive writing requirement. The clerkship and codification capstone course will fulfill 3-credits toward the 6-credit experiential learning requirement. In this way certificate students can still enjoy a full range of electives while also completing their Indian law focus.
The certificate will be awarded to School of Law students simultaneously with the J.D. degree and will be reflected on the student’s law school transcript.
Indian Law Curriculum
Two Required Courses
Students are required to complete both of these courses in order to secure the certificate. They are typically offered every year, Federal Indian Law in the fall and Tribal Law in the spring. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that students complete the require courses during their second year of study.
LAW 204: Federal Indian Law (3 Credits)
LAW 278: Tribal Law (2 Credits)
Primary Courses (Any 7 Credits)
Students are required to complete a total of 7 credits in primary courses related
to Indian law. Students may also use independent study projects to count toward the
7 required credits with the advanced permission of the Certificate Director.
LAW 256 – Jurisdiction in Indian Country (3 Credits)
LAW 270 – Race & Justice (2-3 Credits)
LAW 276 – Indian Gaming Law (2 Credits)
LAW 279 – Tribal Economic Development (2 Credits)
LAW 294 – Indian Child Welfare Act (2 Credits)
LAW 340 – Indian Country Environmental Law (3 Credits) (Intensive Writing Requirement)
LAW 550 – Independent Study (1-3 Credits) (If Approved by Certificate Director in Advance)
LAW 553 – Moot Court (1-2 Credits) (Only for NALSA Moot Court)
Experiential Component – Clerkship & Codification
As the experiential component of the Indian Law Certificate program students will have the opportunity to practice being clerks to tribal courts (working either with real active cases, or simulated cases depending on timing and availability) and work with the codification of actual written tribal opinions to be collected and published electronically by the Northern Plains Indian Law Center and the University of North Dakota School of Law. In keeping with the goal of a progressive curriculum that moves students from the classroom to practice, it is expected that students will complete the experiential component during the Spring semester of their 3L year.
Each student will be given a legal issue(s) associated with an active or simulated case present in the tribal courts from our region. Under the supervision of the professor – the student will research the legal issue(s) and draft a bench brief suitable for presentation to tribal judges. For active cases; when possible the student will then visit the tribal court and observe the actual proceedings associated with their case. The student will subsequently meet with the tribal judge(s) to discuss the proceedings and will assist in the preparation of the final written opinion.
By the time students reach the experiential course they will have observed how state and federal court opinions are regularly organized and annotated by services like Lexis and West to provide the reader headnotes or keycites regarding propositions of law. These annotated cases serve to make legal research easier and assist both lawyers and judges in ensuring the law is consistently discussed and applied. Additionally, annotation helps to find cases that have been questioned or overturned and highlight that potentially negative subsequent treatment for the legal reader.
As an additional component of this course, students will be trained to carefully read cases issued from tribal courts and will serve as annotators, assisting in the creation of a regional tribal reporter.
After annotation, the cases will be scanned, organized, collected, and published electronically through the Northern Plains Indian Law Center and the University of North Dakota School of Law. The codification component may also include reviewing, organizing, and/or creating materials that reflect best practices for tribal courts, model statutes for adoption by tribal legislatures, and other materials ranging from forms to instructional materials that would be helpful to a practitioner in Indian Country.