Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College

Pursuing Justice for Native Americans

Caroline Mayhew 02

Attorney Specializing in Federal Indian Law

Caroline Mayhew was first drawn to Native American Studies at Simon’s Rock. Further study of federal Indian law allowed her to combine her interests and practice law at a national firm that exclusively represents tribal rights.

At Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP, Caroline has worked in a wide variety of practice areas, but spends much of her time working with the firm’s Health Care, and Self-Determination and Self-Governance practice groups and assisting in the firm’s litigation efforts.

Early in her career, Caroline served as co-counsel for dozens of tribes and tribal organizations bringing contract support cost claims against the federal government under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) and played an active role in the settlement of those claims. Caroline was also part of the firm’s litigation team in two cases establishing the right of tribal contractors to enter into fully-funded facilities leases under the ISDEAA, Maniilaq Association v. Burwell, 72 F. Supp. 3d 227 (D.D.C. 2014) (Maniilaq I), and Maniilaq Association v. Burwell, No. 1:15-cv-00152, 2016 WL 1118256 (D.D.C. Mar. 22, 2016) (Maniilaq II).

Caroline completed her BA at Simon’s Rock with concentrations in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and a self-designed program in Native American Studies.

Caroline earned an MA and JD in American Indian Studies at UCLA/UCLA School of Law.

Caroline has also been involved as a primary author of several U.S. Supreme Court amicus curiae briefs filed by the firm on behalf of tribal clients in high-profile Indian law cases, including Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and Lewis v. Clarke. Caroline also served as co-counsel in Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States, 577 U.S. __ (2016), at the petition and merits stages before the Supreme Court.

Caroline has gained admission to the bar in Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, Caroline focused on Critical Race Studies, the only specialization of its kind in the United States. She was named a Michael T. Masin Scholar after her first year, was a Distinguished Advocate in the Moot Court Honors Program, and graduated sixth in her class.

Designing her Career Path

Caroline pursued a dual concentration at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: Spanish and Latin American Studies, and Native American Studies, which became her main area of focus.

She designed her own concentration in Native American Studies with Anthropology and Linguistics Professor Nancy Bonvillain, who was also her senior thesis advisor.

The faculty are one of the best things that Simon’s Rock has to offer. They are experts in their fields, but are also willing to explore new areas with you.

Being able to create her own concentration and pursue her senior thesis were factors in Caroline’s decision to stay for her bachelor’s degree. The opportunity to travel and study abroad, and the resources Simon’s Rock provided “gave me the ability to take the best of both worlds and make my senior year experience really what I wanted it to be.”

Caroline spent a semester away in South Dakota working at a Boys & Girls Club. The conversations she had with Native American youth living there, and with Native American youth living on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is from, inspired her thesis, “American Indian Youth: Identity, Culture, and the Future,” in which she compared the lives of these two groups growing up in different parts of the country.

Caroline earned her master’s degree and law degree through a joint degree program that specialized in federal Indian law. From law school to practicing law, she has learned concrete skills that are necessary for the profession, but the skills she said have benefited her the most are the ones she learned at Simon’s Rock: critical thinking, writing, and communication.

In a legal writing and thinking class during her first year of law school, Caroline’s writing stood out to the professors. “The credit really does go to the professors at Simon’s Rock who taught me those skills.”

One decision, unlimited possibilities

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