Lawyer-Columnist Paul Now an Appellate Court Judge


Courtesy Patricia PaulPatricia Paul ... is now a judge of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Court of Appeals.
Courtesy Patricia Paul
Patricia Paul … is now a judge of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Court of Appeals.


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


Patricia Paul, Inupiaq, is a business and estate-planning lawyer specializing in land use law and federal Indian law.

She and her artist husband Kevin live on the Swinomish Reservation, where he serves on the Swinomish Senate. She manages the business end of K. Paul Carvings, writes a traditional-cooking column for a local newspaper, and her daily social media posts range from local happenings to that day’s culinary creation.

Her spare time is her own. And she’s filling it with another important task: She’s now a judge on the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Court of Appeals.

The Tribal Council appointed Paul to a term ending on November 30, 2016. She joins Robert J. Miller, Eastern Shawnee, Douglas R. Nash, Nez Perce, on the court. She previously served as an appellate judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System, presiding on appeals at Nooksack, Port Gamble S’Klallam, and Tulalip.

Paul brings a varied background to the bench.

In 1990 – three years before she graduated from college – she authored the booklet, “Beda: Traditions of Early Infant Care.” According to Paul, “Beda” is a Lushootseed word meaning “My child.” The booklet relates four Swinomish elders’ stories about traditional ways in which their families cared for and raised children. According to an Associated Press story at the time, the booklet was recognized by the American Indian Health Care Association “as a creative approach to solving health problems in Native communities.”

Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Antioch University in 1993, and a law degree from Seattle University in 1998. She attended The National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada in 2011 and earned a certificate in Innovations in Governance from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2005.

She was legislative policy analyst for Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip Reservation from 2003-06, before leaving to concentrate on her law practice. She served as parliamentarian of the annual shareholders meeting of Doyon, Limited, an Alaska Native Corporation, in March 2009.

In November 2012, Paul lectured in Bhutan on the topic of cultural change, and presented a paper on that topic in 2012 at the 54th International Congress of Americanists in Vienna.