MBA Spotlight: Northwest Indian Bar Association

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A Q&A with NIBA Governing Council Secretary Jessica Peyton Roberts

Q. How and when did your MBA get started?

A group of Native American legal professionals based in the Pacific Northwest founded the Northwest Indian Bar Association (NIBA) in 1991. They aimed to fill a gap in support for Native American attorneys and other legal professionals in the region for mentorship, education, and networking. The Native American bar is one of the smallest minority bars in the country, but its members stand to have a great impact on the legal issues facing Native communities.
NIBA’s geographic scope encompasses Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Q. What are some of the core goals and/or purposes of your MBA?

NIBA seeks to:

  • Represent and foster the education and welfare of Native American attorneys and other legal professionals;
  • Provide mentors in the legal profession for Native people; and
  • Encourage and promote civic engagement for the benefit of Native people in the Pacific Northwest.

Q. What need does your MBA fill that is unmet elsewhere?

NIBA serves the local community of attorneys, judges, and Native American law practitioners. We are uniquely focused on Native American communities, people, and issues; this unique focus is not provided by any other local bar association.

Q. What are a few of the opportunities or benefits that your members receive?

NIBA provides members with opportunities for networking and mentorship with other Native American legal professionals and practitioners of Native American law.  We also receive and circulate job opportunities to our members.

Q. Does your MBA offer any mentorship or scholarship opportunities? If so, please describe.

Yes, NIBA offers scholarships to Native law students who are attending law school in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington, or who are enrolled in a tribe located in one of these states. NIBA also offers stipends to support recent graduates who are preparing for a bar examination in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington, and who intend to work in the field of American Indian law or policy in the Northwest.

Q. What is a recent MBA accomplishment, current project, or event that you are excited about?

NIBA is proud of the continued financial support that it provides to Native American students in the region. For example, we recently helped send Native students to the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference. Additionally, NIBA looks forward to resuming in-person gatherings in the near future to promote NIBA initiatives and provide opportunities for networking among the Native American law community.

Q. Is there anything else you would like WSBA members to know about your MBA?

Although NIBA is a relatively small bar association, we have an outsized impact in our region. We seek to provide a voice for the Native American law community, and we seek to promote greater inclusion and representation of Native people in the legal profession. We also endeavor to raise the profile of federal Indian law and tribal law as areas of the legal practice.

LEARN MORE > WSBA members can become a Northwest Indian Bar Association (NIBA) member or make a donation to NIBA at our website:

About the author
About the author

Jessica Peyton Roberts serves as secretary on the Northwest Indian Bar Association’s Governing Council and is a member of the Cherokee Nation. She is an associate at Davis Wright Tremaine where her practice includes debt financing, M&A, and corporate governance. She also advises on Indian law issues. She can be reached at: