Native American law by its nature is complicated. From tribal rights to lobbying and gaming law surrounding casinos, many Native American tribes find it most beneficial to split legal services between smaller boutique firms and larger national firms. FaegreBD partner Aaron Harkins represents both tribes and financial institutions in connection with bond offerings, bank loans and a broad range of other financing transactions. Harkins told Law360 the mostly harmonious relationship between the boutiques and larger firms often result in referrals for more specialized work.
“The types of work [boutiques] can do and do well aren't necessarily the types of work we can do efficiently at a big firm,” said Harkins. “Perhaps on some of the litigation matters, there might be some more competition. But even then, the types of cases we would work on would almost necessarily require a deep bench of people.”
While gaming law was a priority for tribes in the 1990s, many tribes are now focusing on diversifying their business portfolios. “A number of tribes have made the decision they need to plan and diversify more, rather than just focusing on gaming. I've got several deals going on involved with nongaming acquisitions of existing businesses," Harkins said.