ILSA proudly hosted the annual Legal Educational Opportunities (LEO) Banquet on Saturday, March 26, 2011, at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.
The University of Wisconsin Law School’s LEO Program was established in 1967 to address issues of diversity within the student body. The support of the LEO Community as a whole has been instrumental in our continued ability to enroll diverse incoming classes. A testament to the efforts of current students, alums, faculty and staff is the fact that we maintain an average of 25% students of color in the student body year after year.
We were honored to have Donald ‘Del’ Laverdure as this year’s LEO Banquet speaker.
Donald “Del” Laverdure, an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Montana (Ties the Bundle Clan) with ancestry from the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, was appointed by Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk to the post of Deputy Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs effective July 29, 2009.
Mr. Laverdure came to Indian Affairs after having been instrumental in pushing for the Crow Tribe to endorse Senator Obama in the primaries for President of the United States, as well as serving on the American Indian Policy Advisory Council for the Obama for America campaign.
Since 2006, Mr. Laverdure had served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Executive Branch of the Crow Tribe, where he expanded and managed the Office of Legal Counsel and served as a senior advisor to the Chairman, the tribe’s top elected official. He also worked on a wide variety of issues for the tribe including federal water legislation, federal and local (state and tribal) tax issues and submission of tribal and state legislation. He also served as the tribe’s lead negotiator on several large energy projects, including Many Stars, a $7.5 billion coal-to-liquids project.
Mr. Laverdure also has held judgeships with his and other tribes including that of Chief Justice for the Crow Tribe Court of Appeals (2002-2006), where he also chaired the tribe’s Judicial Ethics Board, Pro-Tem Appellate Justice for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona Court of Appeals (2008-2009), Chief Appellate Judge for the Havasupai Tribe of Arizona (2006-2009) and Appellate Judge for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan (2003-2004).
From 2003 to 2006, Mr. Laverdure held the position of Assistant Professor of Law at the Michigan State University College of Law and was the founding director of its Indigenous Law Program. Prior to his positions with the Crow Tribe and Michigan State, Mr. Laverdure worked for the University of Wisconsin Law School (2001-2003), where he was a William H. Hastie Fellow, as an Adjunct Professor of Law and as Director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center.
After law school, Mr. Laverdure engaged in private practice as an associate in two law firms as a tax attorney, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. (1999-2000) and von Briesen & Roper, S.C. (2000-2001), where he was involved in structural tax planning and tax litigation for large and small corporations, nonprofit organizations and more than 20 Indian nations, and as a partner in his own firm in Wisconsin, Michigan and Montana.
In the Fall of 2000, Mr. Laverdure was selected for and participated in President Clinton’s White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.
In addition to having taught Federal Indian Law, Property, Constitutional Law, Indian Tax Law and Tribal Sovereignty seminars, Mr. Laverdure has written, testified (in the U.S. and Canadian Senates) and spoken extensively on a variety of Indian law topics, provided Pro Bono services, and co-created and taught courses for the first four Crow Tribe Bar Exams.
Mr. Laverdure earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1995 from the University of Arizona and his Juris Doctor degree in 1999 from the University of Wisconsin Law School where he is also a LL.M Candidate (Indian tax). His law school honors include Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (1996-1999), LEO Program Indian Law Student of the Year (1998-1999), Law School Award, Highest Grade, Federal Indian Law (1997) and President of the Indian Law Students’ Association (1997-1998).
Mr. Laverdure’s professional memberships include the State Bar of Wisconsin (1999-Present), the State Bar of Michigan (2004-Present), the National American Indian Court Judges Association, the Native American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, Indian Law Section.
He is married with two children.
(Biography courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs)