Former Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch to return to Flagstaff
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Kanji & Katzen recently announced that Ethel Branch will be returning to the Firm as a Member, effective May 1.
Branch, who made invaluable contributions to the rirm and its clients as an associate from 2012 to 2015, will open and lead an office for the Firm in Flagstaff, Arizona.
For the past four years, Branch served with great distinction as the 11th attorney general of the Navajo Nation. In that capacity, she oversaw the work of an 88-member staff and of numerous outside law firms as she fought for the Nation’s legal interests on a wide variety of fronts. For example, Branch led the Nation’s litigation and public relations response to the Gold King Mine spill, which contaminated the San Juan River with over 3 million gallons of acid mine waste.
Branch also played a key role in the Nation’s first limited public offering, where she developed documents for the transaction, presented to Standard & Poor’s on the Nation’s financing laws and legal framework, and presented to investors on the stability of the Nation’s legal system. In December 2017, Branch joined other tribal co-counsel in filing a federal complaint challenging President Donald Trump’s revocation of the 1.35-million-acre designation of the Bears Ears National Monument by President Barack Obama. As part of that work, Branch worked closely with the litigation teams for all plaintiff groups and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition to advocate for the protection of the Monument in court, before Congress and in the media.
Among other important work as attorney general, Branch led a substantial Criminal Code and Criminal Rules of Procedure revision effort, which included successful passage of stronger white-collar criminal laws; spearheaded a Nation-wide effort to coordinate public safety, prosecutorial, defense, judicial, substance abuse, family, and emergency response services; and established a Public Integrity Task Force that pursued law reform to combat public corruption. She also negotiated a settlement for the Nation with Urban Outfitters regarding trademark infringement and Indian Arts and Crafts Act violations, participated in settlement negotiations with the Hopi Tribe regarding the Little Colorado River basin, and oversaw work that led to the Utah Water Rights Settlement Act. Branch supervised a successful voting rights claim in Utah resulting in court-ordered redistricting, oversaw numerous special prosecutions and ethics inquiries, and brought vacancies at the Nation’s Department of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office to historic lows. She instituted a lawsuit against Wells Fargo regarding Consumer Finance Protection Act violations targeted at vulnerable populations within the Navajo Nation, and brought suit against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies for the adverse impacts to Navajo tribal members (now part of the Multi-District Litigation). Ethel also worked closely with the state attorneys general for Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and coordinated prosecutorial matters with the U.S. Attorneys for the three states.
Ethel holds three degrees from Harvard University: an A.B., cum laude, in History; a Master’s degree in Public Policy; and a Juris Doctor.
Information provided by Kanji & Katzen