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Justice Should Be Indigenous

Ho-Chunk Nation judges in robes with law students
A gift to UCLA Law’s Tribal Legal Development Clinic will enable students to work with tribes to strengthen legal systems and institutions.

UCLA leads many efforts to create justice for all. Case in point: The university has a powerful relationship with native nations in California and from across the United States. And it just got more powerful.

A Gift That Strengthens Systems

UCLA School of Law has received more than $1.3 million from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a federally recognized tribe near San Bernardino, California. The grant will enable the school’s Tribal Legal Development Clinic to take on up to four projects each year to help strengthen tribal courts and legal systems. It also names the clinic director position, which will be held by Lauren van Schilfgaarde, JD ’12.

“The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is committed to improving justice systems on native lands in California and beyond,” says San Manuel Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “Partnering with UCLA School of Law, we can help native nations build legal institutions that are durable, just, and responsive to the social and cultural needs of our communities.”

Gaining Experience While Giving Expertise

The clinic engages students in working with tribes to draft codes, create procedures for cultural resource protection and ancestral remains repatriation, support dispute resolution and restorative justice, and develop training materials and model practices in response to tribal needs. In particular, the San Manuel Band’s support will enable the clinic to focus on advancing youth and criminal justice and strengthening legal institutions, while fostering the next generation of tribal lawyers.

Says Jonathan D. Varat Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita Carole Goldberg, a nationally recognized expert in tribal law who helped launch the clinic a decade ago: “We are proud to work with the San Manuel Band to strengthen the institutions that advance tribal sovereignty, protect tribes’ cultural and natural resources, and ensure opportunity and fairness for everyone on tribal lands.”

To learn more, contact

Patricia Biggi310-825-3025

Published December 2019

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