“When you walk into federal court as a civil rights lawyer, you tell the judge your name and then you speak the most powerful words, ‘I represent the United States,’” proclaims Lawrence R. Baca, Chair Emeritus, FBA Indian Law Section. Mr. Baca’s lifetime commitment to the development of federal Indian law and his illustrious record championing American Indian civil rights will be explored at the Federal Bar Association’s D.C. Indian Law Conference on November 2, 2018.
Lawrence Baca, a Pawnee Indian, filed more cases on behalf of American Indians than any other attorney in the history of the Civil Rights Division (CRD) when he worked for the United States Department of Justice (ret.). When Mr. Baca began work with the Department of Justice (DOJ), he was the first American Indian lawyer hired through the Attorney General’s Honor Law Program.
Attendees of the 20th Annual D.C. Indian Law Conference are in for a treat: Mr. Baca, who has dedicated his career to addressing American Indian civil rights issues, will deliver notable remarks on such themes as tribal sovereignty, land rights, housing, education, diversity, discrimination, and federal Indian law. Sign up now at www.fedbar.org/dcil18.
Mr. Baca’s extraordinary work on behalf of American Indians shines through not only in his masterful and insightful description of landmark cases that he worked on but also in the informative way he discusses societal and racial underpinnings surrounding the fight for justice on behalf of American Indians. “The FBA put me into contact with a lot of people who worked with American Indian tribes and communities, and who know who the victims of violations are,” reveals Mr. Baca.
The statistics may be discouraging – there is a diminution of cases involving federal Indian law, and it is not due to a lack of meritorious claims. “The failure to file civil rights claims on behalf of American Indians is striking considering that American Indians have experienced a long history of harassment and discrimination in the United States that continues today in the form of disparities in terms of access to services for American Indians as compared to other groups in the country,” asserts Mr. Baca.
The D.C. Indian Law Conference will address the importance of diversity in the judiciary. Mr. Baca observes, “The problem at the moment is the lack of American Indian representation in the form of lawyers and judges. The discussion and advocacy is altered when you have American Indian lawyers at the table. The dialogue will be different when we’re there.” Mr. Baca has been recognized for his work in mentoring minority attorneys and opening doors for American Indian attorneys at the United States DOJ.
Twenty years ago, Mr. Baca saw the need for an FBA Indian Law Conference in the nation’s capital. “If you are an attorney with the federal government, you want to meet people from the DOJ that are interested in Indian law issues. I attempted to focus on issues that might be unique to federal practice. There’s a lot of business to do in Washington, DC. The D.C. Indian Law Conference is a chance to meet with government agencies, attorneys, and even Congress,” explains Mr. Baca.
Mr. Baca previously served for 20 years as Chairman of the Indian Law Section which he created. In 2008, the Indian Law Section established the Lawrence R. Baca Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Federal Indian law as a tribute of Mr. Baca’s career-long impact to American Indian civil rights and justice. Moreover, in 2017, Mr. Baca received the Hon. Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award. The FBA established the Sarah T. Hughes Civil Rights Award to honor that man or woman who promotes the advancement of civil and human rights amongst us, and who exemplifies Judge Hughes’ legacy of devoted service and leadership in the cause of equality.
Join the FBA Indian Law Section for this momentous 20th Annual D.C. Indian Law Conference on November 2, 2018 at the FHI 360 Conference Center. Register now at www.fedbar.org/dcil18.
Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.