Michael Williams, of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, hopes to be a judge and is taking a step toward that goal this fall when he begins his first year at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Though they remain a small percentage, the ranks of Native American law school students have slowly grown over the last few decades.
It is an important field in which to see the Indigenous presence grow, advocates and others say, as Native Americans continue to fight for treaty rights and navigate complex legal issues including Indian Child Welfare, regulation of the casino industry and representation in Congress.
In 2018, Native Americans were only 0.5% of new law students. In the 20 states that reported demographic information to the American Bar Association, Native Americans made up only 0.5% of lawyers. The statistics tracked all who self-identify as Native American, many of whom are not enrolled as members of tribes.
There is a particular dearth of Native Americans at the top of the legal field. The first Native American federal judge was appointed in 1979, and since then, there have been no more than two serving on the federal bench, according to the American Bar Association.
Michael Williams, of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, hopes to be a judge and is taking a step toward that goal this fall when he begins his first year at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Williams spoke to the Cap Times about his career plans and misconceptions some have about Native Americans and the law.
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