Session 3: Strategic Considerations in Structuring Tribal Enterprises

2.75 AV Credits, WSBA# 297813

This course examines key strategic issues tribes should address in structuring their economic enterprises, drawing on case studies.

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Continuing Legal Education
901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall 209
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA 98122-1090
(206) 398-4233

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Recorded:  11/19/2010
Credits:  2.75 AV, WSBA# 297813
Length: 2:54:50

Featured Speakers:
Robert Gips, Aaron Pratt, and Kaign Smith

Strategic Considerations in Structuring Tribal Enterprises - This course examines key strategic issues tribes should address in structuring their economic enterprises, drawing on case studies.

Topics include:

  • Whether to structure tribal enterprises under tribal, state, or federal law, including section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act
  • Pros and cons of establishing enterprises as subdivisions of tribal government or as separate corporate entities
  • The implications of various enterprise structures
  • Sovereign immunity
  • Federal court subject matter jurisdiction
  • Taxation
  • The application of federal labor and employment laws


Robert Gips, an attorney with Drummond Woodsum’s corporate and Indian law practices, has served since 1983 as legal counsel and as a business and financial advisor to Indian tribal governments and tribal businesses, as well as to companies working with tribes. Representative clients include the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in Connecticut, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan, the Penobscot Nation in Maine, and other tribes and businesses across the country. Mr. Gips serves on the Boards of Directors of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, which operates Hard Rock cafes, hotels and casinos around the world; the Passamaquoddy Tribe's Northeast Blueberry Company, one of the world's largest growers of wild berries; and he is vice chair of the Board of Native American Community Development Corporation, the non-profit arm of the Native American Bank. Mr. Gips is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Chambers & Partners, and New England Super Lawyers, independent guides to the top lawyers in the U.S. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, and a JD and MBA from Yale Law School and Yale School of Management, and clerked for the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Aaron M. Pratt is a shareholder in the Portland office of Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon. He received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and his law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law. Mr. Pratt represents businesses, non-profit organizations, investors, lenders and Indian tribes in a wide range of corporate, partnership and commercial matters, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, shareholder and partner matters, intellectual property matters, private placements, venture capital financing (representing both investors and targets), and Tribal economic development matters. Aaron’s clients include businesses, financial institutions and non-profit organizations in Maine and New Hampshire, and Indian tribes and businesses and institutions that do business with Indian tribes across the country.

Kaighn Smith Jr. is a shareholder at Drummond Woodsum MacMahon and has worked in the field of federal Indian law for over 20 years. He serves as litigation counsel to Indian tribes and tribal enterprises across the country on a wide range of issues, including gaming and gaming transactions, labor and employment disputes, and environmental matters. He works closely with the firm’s transactional lawyers to anticipate and avoid litigation issues for tribal clients. A significant focus of Kaighn’s practice involves advising tribes on the regulation of labor and employment relations and defending that sovereign authority. His forthcoming book on that subject will be co-published with the Native American Rights Fund. Kaighn has served as adjunct professor of American Indian Law at the University of Maine School of Law and is listed in Best Lawyers in America in the field of Native American Law. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute. Kaighn received his B.S. from the University of California (Berkeley) and his J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. He served as law clerk to Judge Frank M. Coffin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.


General Registration - $40.00

Seattle University School of Law Alumni - $25.00

AV CLE Credit is self-reported to the Washington State Bar Association, by logging into your "My WSBA" webpage, at
For further information, please contact the WSBA Service Center at 206-443-WSBA (9722), 800-945-WSBA (9722), or