October 26, 2011
DNA People’s Legal Services
DNA People’s Legal Services, Window Rock, AZ
DNA –People’s Legal Services is the largest Native American legal services organization in the US. DNA provides free civil legal representation to individuals and families living at or below 125% of the poverty line throughout the Navajo, Hopi, Jicarilla-Apache, Kaibab-Paiute, Hualapai and Havasupai reservations, as well as in San Juan County, NM and Coconino County, AZ. DNA attorneys are licensed to practice in tribal, state, federal, and administrative courts. In 2010, DNA assisted these communities in 4,358 cases.
During this summer, I worked in Tuba City, which, at just over 8,000 people, is the largest city on the Navajo Nation. Running through the middle of the city is the border between the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Nation. As a result, there was always a diversity of both clients and culture.
I worked primarily with pro se clients needing help with legal issues regarding their families. Though many times the help our clients needed simply involved correctly completing a form document, it was rewarding to witness how beneficial these efforts were to their daily lives. Daily interactions like these impressed upon me the importance of this and other legal aid clinics across the country.
I applied to DNA to gain some practical legal experience, as well as context for the legal concepts being taught at school. Additionally, I was lured by the promise of both being immersed in a different culture by living on the Navajo Nation, and being surrounded by beautiful hiking. I left with an appreciation of the distinct Navajo culture, the beautiful land that is their home and the knowledge of how beneficial even a summer law clerk can be in helping people through their daily lives by reducing the stress of legal interactions.