Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program Overview

“The IPLP Program prepares our students to be leaders in their communities, in their fields of expertise, and in their practice as professionals. Our goal is to train the next generation of legal advocates promoting the rights of indigenous people here in the United States and around the world. By teaching an understanding of how prevailing norms and principles within federal Indian law, international human rights law, and tribal law and legal knowledge can be fused and integrated to advance recognition of indigenous peoples’ self-determination, IPLP students graduate with a wide range of theoretical knowledge, practical experience, and innovative strategies to affect change.”

Robert A. Williams, Jr., E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law; Faculty Co-Chair, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program

Leaders in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy

Faculty at the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (IPLP) Program instill a strong understanding of the legal foundations of federal Indian law, tribal self-determination, and the trust responsibility, informed by developing norms of contemporary international law respecting indigenous peoples’ human rights. We equip students with the critical thinking skills and lawyering tools needed to develop innovative and effective legal strategies and policy initiatives to promote and advance the rights of indigenous communities across Indian Country and throughout the world.

The faculty at IPLP have extensive experience in a wide range of fields and roles including:

  • Federal Indian law
  • Indigenous peoples’ law, policy, and human rights
  • International and domestic environmental and natural resource law
  • Economic development within indigenous communities
  • Tribal governance and self-determination
  • Jurisdiction within Indian Country
  • Bio-ethics
  • Critical race theory
  • Cultural property law
  • Implementing the Violence Against Women Act within tribal communities
  • Serving as tribal court judges
  • Representing indigenous communities before the United States Supreme Court, domestic courts in Latin America, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, and the Supreme Court of Canada

IPLP Scholarships

Each year IPLP provides more than $900,000 in financial support to JD, LLM, and SJD students through scholarships and financial aid for qualified students. IPLP awards merit-based scholarships on a rolling basis and has limited funding available. In order to be awarded a scholarship, early applications for the JD, LLM, and SJD degrees are strongly encouraged.

Student Leadership and Advocacy

The IPLP student body is an active and involved group of advocates who are dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous communities. The award winning University of Arizona Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) chapter provides support and mentorship to fellow students, organizes events, and supports the local community through volunteer work. Throughout the school year, NALSA hosts faculty-student lunches, brings in numerous speakers in the Indian Law and international indigenous law fields, conducts fundraisers to bring awareness to Indigenous People's Day, and provides volunteer and internship opportunities to law students interested in working in Tucson's local Native communities.

Program Strengths

The IPLP Program offers students unique learning experiences:

  • Robust course offerings
  • Experiential learning opportunities in IPLP clinics, advocacy projects, and externships
  • Access to IPLP's extensive network of alumni who serve in leadership positions across the U.S. and world

James E. Rogers College of Law (Arizona Law) Rankings

  • #48 best law school (U.S. News and World Report)
  • #27 Environmental Law program (U.S. News and World Report)
  • #4 practical training (National Jurist)
  • #29 scholarly impact (University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minnesota)

Arizona Law Graduate Employment Rates

  • 99% summer placement for 1Ls in 2015 and 100% summer placement for 2Ls in 2015
  • 2.8% unemployment rate for the Class of 2015
  • 23.2% judicial clerkship employment for Class of 2014, compared to national average of 9.2%. (Source: National Association for Law Placement)



“IPLP’s faculty and opportunities for hands-on student advocacy are unparalleled. I loved the program. The lessons I learned inform my practice of law every day. Not only are my classmates lifelong friends and allies, but everywhere I go I meet more IPLP alums doing incredible work on behalf of Indian Country.”
Akilah Kinnison (LLM, ’13) Associate, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker