Hilary C. Tompkins ’90 receives honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters at Dartmouth

Tompkins is a highly accomplished attorney and leader in natural resources, environmental and Indian law

Hilary Tompkins, Hogan Lovells partner specializing in natural resources, environmental and Indian law, was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Tompkins, a 1990 graduate of the University, is a registered member of the Navajo nation and has a long-standing career of serving her community. Following her graduation from Stanford with her law degree, she began her career as a trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2009, she became the first Native American to serve in the presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate-confirmed position of solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior. From the development of legal reforms following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the successful defense of the first renewable energy projects on public lands, her work stands as a testament to your intelligence, aptitude and keen understanding of the law.

Dartmouth’s full testimony

HILARY CHANDLER TOMPKINS, as a highly accomplished attorney and leader in natural resources, environmental and Indian law, you’ve proven yourself the gold standard of fair-mindedness and competence.

Born at Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico to a struggling Navajo family, you were raised by Quaker parents in New Jersey in a multi-racial adoptive family. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, you earned your degree from Dartmouth as a proud member of the Class of 1990.

Eager to reconnect with your Indian heritage, you returned to the reservation to practice tribal law before earning your law degree from Stanford Law School. With a passion for conservation, you began your career as a trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2009, you became the first Native American to serve in the presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate-confirmed position of solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior. From the development of legal reforms following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the successful defense of the first renewable energy projects on public lands, your work stands as a testament to your intelligence, aptitude and keen understanding of the law.

With deep expertise in federal Indian law, you led the historic settlement of the Cobell tribal trust litigation—the largest and most complex class action lawsuit in U.S. history—opening the door to improved relations between the federal government and Native American tribes. In addition, you paved the way for the establishment of multiple national monuments.

For your responsible representation of America’s land, water and wildlife, for your deeply held respect for indigenous people and the planet, and for your outstanding contributions to environmental law, Dartmouth is proud to award you the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Hogan Lovells 

Hilary C. Tompkins has expansive experience in natural resources and environmental law at the highest levels of government. Most recently, she served in the presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed position of Solicitor for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) – the agency responsible for the management and conservation of public lands, natural and wildlife resource programs, and the trustee for Native American tribes.

In that role, she led over 300 attorneys in 16 offices nationwide and acquired significant experience in onshore and offshore energy development (conventional and renewable), the administration of federal water projects, conservation and wildlife legal requirements, and public land law.

Hilary oversaw litigation in support of Interior decisions, including cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and issued landmark legal opinions. Her accomplishments include the development of legal reforms following Deepwater Horizon, the successful defense of the first renewables on public lands, and resolving complex disputes involving multi-stakeholder projects under the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act, among other statutes. Interior clients included the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Hilary is also a leader in federal Indian law, where she led the historic settlement of the largest class-action lawsuit in U.S. history – the Cobell tribal trust litigation. She is well-versed in Indian gaming, treaty rights, tribal trust land, water rights, and tribal sovereign immunity. Hilary also has experience advancing economic development projects in Indian country.

Before serving as DOI Solicitor, Hilary was counsel to New Mexico's governor, acting as his chief legal adviser on all matters from appointment of judges and interpretation of constitutional authority to enactment of legislative initiatives. She was also a special assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Hilary began her legal career as an honors program trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she handled civil prosecutions in environmental cases nationwide. Hilary is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

Education and admissions

Hilary C. Tompkins

Education 

J.D., Stanford Law School, 1996
B.A., Dartmouth College, 1990

Memberships

Member, Board of Directors, Environmental Law Institute
Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers
Member, Policy Advisory Committee, National Tribal Air Association
Member, Tribal Advisory Board, The National Judicial College

Bar admissions and qualifications

District of ColumbiaNew Mexico

Court admissions

U.S. District Court, District of New Mexico
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court

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