By Jane Whitehead
Tobias Brambrink JD ’13 said his experience in the Indian Law and Indigenous Peoples Clinic gave him invaluable experience in working with clients and reaching compromises on complex issues.
Brambrink helped draft rules of appellate procedure for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Supreme Court during his third year in 2012-2013. The tribe had been using the federal rules and in 2010 asked the law school to help write new rules from scratch.
One challenge for the students in the Indian Law clinic was in balancing concerns of the tribal elders and the chief judge: the elders wanted the rules to be concise and accessible to unrepresented people while the chief judge preferred more comprehensive rules to provide for an efficient and fair appeals process, Brambrink said. Students met, emailed and talked on the phone with tribal members and the chief judge to revise the rules—sometimes from scratch, sometimes borrowing language from other tribes around the country.
“Working for a tribal government shares many similarities with working for a complex corporate client, which many of my clients are,” said Brambrink, a technology specialist at Wolf Greenfield, a Boston-based law firm specializing in intellectual property law.
“You typically have multiple players, and sometimes their interests don’t align. It’s part of our job as their legal counsel to be aware of who we owe our professional duties to, and to see whether we can find a solution that people can agree to.”