Denver Bar Association
May 2013
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From the President: Young Lawyers Tell Us What They Need from the DBA

by Jim Benjamin

Jim Benjamin

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he Denver Bar Association Young Lawyers Division recently conducted a survey of its constituency to gain insight into membership needs.

There were three recurring responses:

More inexpensive educational programs of a practical nature. Receiving CLE credits was not of concern; young lawyers want guidance on the day-to-day aspects of practicing.

More networking events with senior members of the bar. Many young lawyers are self-employed, under-employed, or unemployed, making networking a high priority for them.

Mentoring. This continues to be a major reason for joining the DBA. What this relationship entails varies from a long-term commitment to connecting with a more experienced lawyer who they may ask questions of from time to time.

A long-term planning session for the DBA will take place later this month, with the hope of responding to these and other needs that come up during the session.

Still Time to Be Derby Dapper

For those who have procrastinated and now are desperate to obtain last-minute derby attire for the Barristers Benefit Ball, I suggest a visit to our colleague Sara Hartmann at Brooks Brothers, located in the Outlets at Castle Rock. Hartmann, who practiced law under her maiden name, Sara Franklin, took a leave of absence from the legal profession to raise a family. Her journey back to the non-domestic working world has taken her to Brooks Brothers. In my quest to be properly outfitted, I was fortunate to have wandered into her haberdashery. The seersucker suits had just arrived, and Hartmann, who has attended the Kentucky Derby, brought first-hand knowledge on how to dress for the occasion. I was in and out within 20 minutes, appropriately attired with seersucker suit, pastel tie, and pocket patch.

After doing some research of my own, I discovered that to cover your feet, a nice pair of "sleds," such as horse-bit loafers or saddle shoes, are the footwear of choice. According to the official Kentucky Derby website, "the most important thing you need to know" about wearing horse-bit loafers "is that they should be worn sockless." Your hardly used old saddle shoe-style golf shoes (with the spikes removed, of course) are a perfect substitute for sleds.

Another suggestion for the male attendees of Down & Derby is Andrisen Morton in Cherry Creek North. A recent visit yielded new arrivals of spring sport coats and slacks.

For our female members, take another look at Barrister’s Benefit Ball co-chairs, Michelle Ferguson and Jaci Casey in the April issue of The Docket. They were outfitted from head to toe (yes, even the haute hats, jewelry, and pumps) at Mariel Boutique.

Volunteers Needed for Native
American Reservation Allotment Land

Last month I travelled to New Town, N.D., center of the Fort Berthold (Mandan) Indian Reservation, to meet with the state commissioner of Indian Affairs regarding the difficulties Native American "allottees" have faced proving marketability of title to their allottee tracts of land within the reservation.

While reservation "trust" lands are being leased for oil production, individuals who own allotment tracts within the reservation face an extreme problem proving marketable title to their parcels. Records pertaining to allottee lands are maintained only in hard-copy in the offices of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. If a person wants to obtain a report with the record owner of an allottee tract, it will take a minimum of six months for a search to be conducted and sometimes as long as six years for it to be completed.

Timing for this meeting coincided with a gathering of members of tribal councils from across the Western U.S. who had come together to share business ideas and solutions. Many reservations seem to be encountering or expect to encounter this same issue as a result of lucrative oil reserves existing under their land. The Bakken reserve underlying Fort Berthold brings 11,000 oil production-related semi-trucks onto the reservation daily.

As I have reported previously, the commissioner approached the DBA for assistance in creating a more efficient and pragmatically useable land title recordation system. The problem is apparently not unique; other reservation nations already have expressed excitement with the possibility of expanding the project to their allottee tracts.

A plan did come out of the conference: create a computer-based land recordation system owned and operated by the tribal council for the reservation.

Under Federal Regulations, tribal councils are given the authority to undertake provision of such public services as they may elect. In the past, reservations have used this enabling regulation to create things such as their own police and fire protection services. Because current records are in paper form, the initial transformation from a Bureau of Indian Affairs-operated system to one under the control of the tribal council of the reservation will be very labor intensive. For each allottee tract, the paper record will need to be searched and a determination of title concluded from the records. However, because of the lack of usual indices of preservation of title having occurred in the past, such as the absence of a probate on death of an owner, and the lack of written conveyances when transfers have occurred between family members, creation of marketable title will likely mandate filing and prosecution of quiet title actions on many of the allottee tracts.

I am proud to report that a half dozen DBA members already have volunteered for this pro bono program, but many more will be needed. An informational meeting has been scheduled at 2 p.m. on May 9 at the DBA. No RSVP is necessary. D


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