The Denver-based, Indian-owned law firm Smith, Shelton & Ragona added Indian Gaming authority Andrea Lord Goldstein to its team in September.
The former staff attorney for the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) will join Smith, Shelton & Ragona—one of the few law firms in Colorado dedicated to representing American Indian interests—as a senior associate.
“Andrea is a clear, precise technical thinker,” said Don Ragona, a partner with the firm. “Our clients, and especially our gaming clients, deserve an attorney who can navigate the technicalities of the law as well as National Indian Gaming Commission rules and regulations. She operates with the confidence and precision that it takes to protect the interests of our Tribal gaming clients.”
As a staff attorney for nearly five years with the NIGC, Goldstein ensured compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). She litigated key gaming cases, including the Colorado River Indian Tribes v. NIGC case on Class III regulations, as well as several cases on the gaming status of Indian lands and a Jack Abramoff-related case. Goldstein stated, “While at the NIGC, I created a model gaming ordinance based on best practices used by Tribes, designed an Indian lands database and drafted a variety of regulations, including the facility license regulations.” She spent a year on special assignment as Counselor to Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Carl Artman, specializing in gaming matters.
While many consider Goldstein an expert in Indian Gaming practice, she is a front runner in other areas of Indian law as well. “I’ve worked with many aspects of Indian law, from the federal acknowledgment process through placing land into trust status,” she explained. “As Counselor to the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, I coordinated the team that reviewed what was slowing up the process for placing land into trust and created a handbook for quicker and more consistent processing of fee to trust applications.” Goldstein also worked with the Native American Rights Fund and the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs to repatriate remains under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act.
The partners of Smith, Shelton & Ragona continually checked in with Goldstein as her experience in Gaming and Indian law grew. Finally this fall, partners at Smith, Shelton & Ragona and Goldstein felt that it was an appropriate time for Goldstein to come on board.
“At SSR, I’m creating strong regulations, ensuring that contracts favor Tribal interests, and advising on potential business opportunities to bolster economic growth,” Goldstein said of her role at the firm. “In my experience, Tribes with strong regulatory policies and well-functioning court systems are able to attract business partners and encourage reservation development.”
As Tribes face new and old issues, and new opportunities are presented, Tribal representatives and Tribal-affiliated clients are continuously looking to Smith, Shelton & Ragona for legal advice and guidance. “Tribes are expanding into many more areas of economic development,” Goldstein explained. “For example, they are creating their own oil and gas leases rather than allowing the Department of the Interior to negotiate for them. Here at SSR, we provide not only legal advice, but practical suggestions on ways to maximize revenue, create tourism, or expand business opportunities. Tribes must create an impression of stability and reliability for their reservations, encouraging entrepreneurs to take advantage of the lower taxes and partner with tribes to promote unique business development opportunities.”
Smith, Shelton & Ragona’s attorney roster will be expanding even more this month. On October 24, Lisa R. Shellenberger, who has been with SSR since June of 2010 as a law clerk, will be sworn in as an attorney by the Justices of the Colorado Supreme Court.