The National Tribal Trial College Certificate in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy is a free, 6-month, skill building course empowering laypersons to practice law in Tribal Courts across the United States of America. 233 Tribal Court Legal Advocates representing 108 Tribes from 26 states have completed the intensive litigation Certificate in partnership with the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women and the University of Wisconsin Law School.
An Advanced Certificate in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy will again be offered in 2024.
Certificate in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy
Now in its 9th year, the National Tribal Trial College addresses the shortage of legal practitioners in Indian Country and Alaska by training laypersons to litigate in the areas of greatest need: divorce, child custody, visitation, child support, domestic violence protection orders, and victim rights. NTTC graduates have served thousands of American Indian/Alaska Native clients across the United States who otherwise would have had no access to foundational legal services.
Taught by Indian Country’s leading litigation experts, students complete a 20-week/200-hour, interactive, online course before attending a 40-hour, onsite, hands-on trial skills training at the University of Wisconsin Law School. All coursework employs Native American adult learning style principles and is focused on meeting the real-world justice needs of Tribal communities.
Students learn legal research and writing skills in addition to practical, ‘’nuts and bolts” trial skills. The legal skills acquired in the 240-hour NTTC course also empower graduates to serve in important leadership roles within their Tribes as elected Chairpersons, Councilmembers, prosecutors, and judges promoting safety, sovereignty, and the rule of law.”
Priority admission is reserved for advocates who work with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Other individuals who show a connection to working with AI/AN sexual assault or domestic violence survivors will also be considered.
This 6-month Certificate is taught in 2 parts: The first part consists of 20 weeks of interactive, online instruction requiring a time commitment of approximately 10 hours per week from each student. All course materials are free and provided online. There is no textbook for students to purchase. Students view weekly videotaped lectures and complete written assignments tailored to their own tribal justice systems. Discussion forums allow students to learn about each other’s Tribal justice systems while sharing troubleshooting and problem-solving techniques helpful for advancing safety and justice. The second part of the course is a 40 hour, in-person, hands-on litigation institute at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The 40-hour course is held in Madison, Wisconsin and provides a safe, but challenging space for students to build upon their litigation skills. Students gain practical experience litigating a case in mock courtrooms with the assistance of witnesses and tribal court judges to enhance the trial experience.
There is no tuition for qualified participants to take the online course. However, students are required to fund their travel, lodging and meals while attending the required on-site portion of the course.
Tribal court judges, attorneys, and law professors from across the country instruct the Legal Certificate Advocacy course. Below is a list of the course instructors from previous NTTC Courses:
- Hallie Bongar White (Dean/National Tribal Trial College)
- Hon. Montie R. Deer (Muscogee Creek Supreme Court. Retired)
- Hon. Melvin R. Stoof (Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court)
- Hon. David Voluck (Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Tribal Magistrate/Judge)
- Sarah Deer (Professor, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies- University of Kansas)
- James Diamond (Professor of Law- Roger Williams University)
- Hon. James White (Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Former Supreme Court Justice for Citizen Potawatomi Nation)
- Jeff Davis (Former Assistant United States Attorney)
- David Adams (Former AUSA/Managing Partner Parnall and Adams)
- Sarah Henry (Attorney Advisor, National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit)
- Daniel Goombi (Executive Director of the Midwest Native Coalition for Justice and Peace (MNCJP), 2015 National Tribal Trial College Graduate)
- Brenna Hanley (Navajo Nation Tribal Prosecutor, 2017 National Tribal Trial College Graduate)
- Beth O’Keefe (Executive Director, Minnesota Indigenous Women’s Society)
- Hon. Vincent Knight (Pueblo of Laguna)
Applications open online: December 1, 2024
Application due: January 12, 2024
Applicants notified of Acceptance : January 19, 2024
Online Course begins: February 5, 2024
Online Course ends: July 1, 2024
Onsite Course : July 21-26, 2026 in Madison, Wis.
Priority of Admission is given to professionals with demonstrated experience serving American Indian/Alaska Native survivors of domestic and sexual violence on tribal lands.
- Personal Statement.
- Why do you want to complete this course in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy?
- How will this course benefit you and your community?
- Please note that this personal statement will be considered a writing sample.
- Current Resume or CV
- A signed letter from the clerk of your Tribal Court or current sitting Tribal Court Judge (written on a Tribal Court letterhead) certifying that you will be allowed to practice in the specified Tribal Court once you complete the Certificate in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy.