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Saturday, October 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Indian law will be added to bar exam
By Sara Jean Green
After a nearly three-hour discussion, which included comments from Indian and non-Indian attorneys, the 12 voting members of the WSBA's Board of Governors agreed at a meeting in Richland that all future lawyers must grasp the basics of tribal sovereignty in order to practice in this state.
The summer 2007 state bar exam is to be the first test of aspiring attorneys' understanding of Indian law and its intersections with most other areas of law, from criminal and family law to environmental and business law.
The unanimous vote "was my biggest shock," said Seattle attorney Gabe Galanda, a member of California's Round Valley Indian Confederation and the immediate past president of the Northwest Indian Bar Association.
Galanda, 28, has been the driving force behind the addition of Indian law to the bar exam since New Mexico's bar decided to test on Indian law in 2002. Yesterday's vote, he said, "was a fundamental recognition of tribal sovereignty. I was al-most brought to tears."
Now, the state bar will be working with law schools and companies that offer bar-exam preparation courses to ensure that law students learn what they need to learn before encountering a question on Indian law on the exam, Galanda said.
"I credit the non-Indian bar ... for carrying the water," he said. "Tribal lawyers brought it to their attention and, ultimately, it was the general bar that decided this was good policy."
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654
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