Real Estate

Tribal Law

Tribal Law lies at the crossroads of many unique and complex legal, historical, cultural, and economic issues. Tribal sovereignty, federal and state law, and tribal laws and traditions all play a role in determining the objectives and decisions of Native American governments and businesses—and of those who wish to do business with them.

Because of this complexity, both in-house and outside counsel have traditionally focused on providing narrow, limited advice on a very specific range of issues for which they have particular experience. As the interests of Native American tribes have evolved and expanded over time, many have been forced to seek additional counsel with specialized expertise in specific areas. This has created an unwieldy, costly and inefficient system for procuring legal services.

The Tribal Law Practice Group of Quarles & Brady offers a better approach. In order to better serve the legal needs of tribal clients, we have developed a full-service practice that provides legal counsel with experience and knowledge in the full range of issues that affect the operations of their businesses and governments at every level—tribal, regional, and national.

We work with tribes in nearly every area of applicable Native American and Native American-related law. We understand tribal law, federal statutes, federal and state agency regulations, and case law that affect day-to-day operations and long-term objectives of governments and businesses, both on and off the reservation. We believe in providing effective, comprehensive legal counsel that looks not only at short-term issues, but also assists tribes in creating the legal infrastructure that will enable them to achieve their long-term goals.

Our attorneys have worked with Indian tribes, those doing business with tribal governments and enterprises, and state and federal agencies on many issues related to federal tribal law. These include:

  • Tribal Housing Authority expertise, including development of custom construction, design and on-call agreements, resident management and enforcement, procurement policy, IFB and RFP preparation and analysis, and NAHASDA compliance and appropriation defense;
  • environmental and natural resource issues, including natural resources management and preservation, water rights claims, and the regulatory requirements necessary to protect tribal air, water, and lands;
  • gaming compact negotiations, casino development, operations, financing, and other vendor contracts;
  • government relations, advocacy, and lobbying;
  • hotel and resort development and management;
  • taxation;
  • labor, employment, and employee benefits;
  • tribal court proceedings and federal and state court litigation;
  • tribal economic development projects;
  • commercial and real estate financing;
  • corporate and business law;
  • intellectual property issues;
  • tribal code development; and
  • health law.

First-Hand Knowledge

In order to best serve Native American tribes and those who wish to do business with them, we believe attorneys must possess first-hand knowledge of the people they serve. Cultural sensitivity is not political correctness; rather, it is an ongoing commitment to learn about the people we serve and to understand each tribe’s unique needs and goals. When this has been accomplished, our attorneys are well-positioned to address our client’s concerns, effectively and efficiently.

Our team includes Native American attorneys whose unique perspective and knowledge enhance that of the team. Our attorneys have significant, long-term, and direct personal and professional experience relating to Native American concerns.

Giving Back

Committed to providing the highest levels of legal counsel, Quarles & Brady is equally committed to understanding and participating in the communities we serve. The firm has a long history of partnering with charitable, cultural, and educational organizations wherever our offices are found.

This tradition continues within the Indian Law Group. For example, since 1999, the firm has worked with the Gila River Indian Community of central Arizona to create a summer associate program for first- and second-year law students. The summer associates split their time between the firm’s Phoenix office and the legal department of the Gila River Indian Community, gaining first-hand experience working on a broad range of legal issues that face Native American communities. The Native American Joint Summer Associate Program is dedicated to helping create a highly trained group of law school graduates ready to put their skills and experience to work for the country’s Native American population. Based on the success of this innovative program, we have expanded the program to include the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Wisconsin. Salaries of the participating students are paid by the firm.

Our attorneys are also regularly honored for the pro bono legal work and other volunteer services they perform on behalf of groups and individuals in their communities; below the headlines, we remain committed to providing support to social service organizations wherever we live and work.

Tribal law lies at the very center of new, exciting opportunities. With these new opportunities come unique issues and responsibilities. In order to effectively meet the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead, Native American tribes and businesses—and those who wish to do business with them—need legal representation with the highest levels of legal knowledge, experience, and resources. At Quarles & Brady, representing a Native American tribe means being responsive to each tribe’s unique culture and history and providing the right assistance to realize its goals and aspirations.