In Law360 Article, Jason Hauter Offers Tips for Aspiring Attorneys in Native American Law

Jason Hauter, senior counsel in the American Indian practice at Akin Gump, was quoted in the Law360 article “4 Tips For Aspiring Attorneys In Native American Law.”

The article suggests that networking is an important way for those who are beginning their legal careers to make a strong transition out of law school. Bar association events, in particular, according to Hauter, can provide budding attorneys a chance to pick the brains of the established professionals who attend. “There are a lot of lawyers in this field that want to pass on what they know, so students should take advantage of that,” he said.

For those interested in an in-house position with a tribe, Hauter said it is important to note that some may not have a general counsel’s office or may only have a small in-house legal operation that does not allow for the scope of work that can help launch a career. Young Native American lawyers who want to serve their tribes directly out of school may want to hold off before taking on that challenge, he said, adding, “American Indian law issues are very, very complex and they’re often not easy issues, and so you need to get that experience before taking on those matters.”

Picking the right size firm is another important factor to consider. Hauter said that while smaller firms with good reputations in Indian Country are a valuable option, they could lead to something of a trade-off. The more junior lawyers might handle more matters at a smaller firm, but it may not be the type of cutting-edge work found at larger firms. Larger firms, he said, may also provide greater opportunity to venture into new areas with different practice groups. “Especially for D.C. firms, the policy route — whether it’s advocating for Congress or within the administration — is clearly a skill that you really only get by being out there,” said Hauter.

Once a decision is made to move from a firm to a tribe, Hauter cautions that one should expect some “culture shock.” “All the rules and customs and the courtesies, the etiquette, if you will, of a tribe is unwritten,” he said. “There’s no cheat sheet for how to act for any one tribe; you’ve got to learn on your own.”