Keith C. Smith
Chairperson of the American Indian & Tribal Law Division, Civil Litigation Division and Wills & Estate Planning Division
JD, Arizona State University
BA, University of Colorado
Keith C. Smith leads the firm’s Tribal & Federal Indian law practice, and he practices family law as well. Keith has been practicing Tribal and Federal Indian law since he received his juris doctorate degree from the Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 1997. As such, his experience in Tribal and Federal Indian law is unparalleled to many working in the field. In addition to practicing Tribal and Federal Indian law, Keith’s practice also includes domestic relations (family law), land issues, probate and estate planning matters, business law, employment matters, general civil litigation, and minor criminal offenses. Mr. Smith currently represents the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise for employment matters, and several individual clients for various matters ranging from family law, employment law and businesses for their needs. Keith also represents native non-profits such as, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the First Nation Development Institute.
Prior to establishing the firm, Mr. Smith held a position as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he taught Federal Indian Law, Family Law, and Contracts, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Keith continues to present as a guest lecturer and speaker at numerous venues, such as the University of Colorado, University of Denver, Arizona State University, Metro State College, Colorado State University, American Indian College, Dine College, National Indian Education Association, National Conference, Indigenous Bar Association, British Columbia, and many others.
Prior to serving as a professor, Keith served as in-house counsel and senior administration director for the American Indian College Fund (“AICF”). While serving as in-house counsel, Keith advised the AICF on all legal matters facing the AICF and was instrumental in the creation and establishment of employee and management procedures. He also provided contract supervision for construction projects for 31 tribal colleges and universities in the United States - an approximate $31 million project. Each year, Keith assisted the AICF in providing counsel for each of the colleges belonging to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (“AIHEC”), during legislative hearings with the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. He later accepted a position as Director of the Indian Legal Program at the Arizona State University College of Law, where he worked to further develop the law school's Federal Indian Law curriculum and helped nurture and maintain many relationships with American Indian tribal nations. In addition, he managed the school's recruitment efforts of enrolling native law students and was an active member of law school's admission's committee.
Immediately following law school, Keith served as a staff attorney for the Navajo Nation’s DNA Peoples' Legal Services firm in Farmington, New Mexico. While at DNA Peoples' Legal Service, he worked in the areas of family law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, contracts, consumer law and landlord/tenant; he worked with issues regarding the Navajo Housing Authority, representing tenants.
Keith received his Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While in law school, Keith clerked for the Chief Justice of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community where he drafted and wrote the Community's Domestic Violence Code. The Code was enacted in 1997. He also authored, “Best Practices for Defending Tribal Membership Cases,” in 2013. He also received the distinction of being named a Chief Manuelito Scholar throughout college and law school.