Lawrence S. Roberts serves as special counsel in the Native American Law Practice. He has more than 20 years of experience helping tribes to reach solutions on federal Indian law matters administratively and in litigation. A citizen of the Oneida Nation, Mr. Roberts is committed to preserving, promoting and protecting tribal sovereignty and self-determination for Indian nations.
Mr. Roberts has deep experience working with government agencies that Native American tribes engage with most often, including the US Department of the Interior (Interior), the National Indian Gaming Commission, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Appointed to Interior in 2012, Mr. Roberts served in various leadership roles in Indian Affairs, including as acting assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, the principal deputy assistant secretary, and the deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Economic Development. He oversaw Indian Affairs in a broad range of issues, including the restoration of tribal homelands; energy and economic development; fostering tribal self-determination and self-governance; Indian gaming; the Indian Child Welfare Act; social services; law enforcement; natural resources; leasing and rights-of-way; reservation boundaries; and treaty rights protection.
Before his appointment to Interior, Mr. Roberts served as the general counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission, where he advised the chairwoman and commissioners on all matters before the Commission, including litigation, enforcement actions, Commission decisions and the adoption of Commission rules and policies.
Mr. Roberts began his legal career as a trial lawyer in the DOJ Environment and Natural Resource Division, Indian Resources Section, where he litigated matters concerning tribal reserved treaty rights, reservation boundaries, tribal water quality standards, fee-to-trust acquisitions, tribal land claims and other matters implicating tribal rights. Mr. Roberts’ also worked as a lawyer in the EPA Office of General Counsel. There, he provided legal advice regarding the implementation of federal environmental programs in Indian country.
Nationally recognized for his work in Native American law, Mr. Roberts has received numerous awards, including the National Congress of American Indians’ Governmental Leadership Award; the Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Alternative Dispute Resolution; the Department of Justice Meritorious Award; the Department of Justice Special Commendation for Outstanding Service; and the University of Wisconsin Indigenous Law Students Association Alumnus of the Year. Mr. Roberts was also recognized by The Best Lawyers in America® in 2019 and 2020 for Native American Law.