Sarah Roubidoux Lawson


Sarah Lawson works with tribal governments and tribal entities to achieve self-governance and economic development goals while protecting tribal resources and sovereignty. Before joining Schwabe, Sarah spent over 10 years working in tribal government, advising tribal council and tribal departments on a variety of matters including contracts, real estate development, and legislation. Sarah’s work is particularly focused on tribal tax and real estate matters, including the fee-to-trust process, and she is widely regarded as an authority on issues involving Indian trust land.

Sarah understands the importance of bringing business to Indian Country to strengthen tribal economies. She frequently advises companies doing business in Indian Country, helping them navigate tribal and federal laws and contracts with tribal entities. She also works with tribes and tribal members on estate planning and probate matters. Sarah is an enrolled member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.



  • Drafted various tribal codes, including, HEARTH Act leasing, probate, environmental enforcement, and site investigation code for environmental emergency response.
  • Advised corporation on Indian trust land matters, including lease renewal, partition, and fractional interest acquisition.
  • Advised numerous tribal governments on lease and right-of-way compliance issues, including breach of contract, violation of federal and tribal law, and the new federal leasing and right-of-way regulations.
  • Represented tribal corporation in federal litigation defending its lease on tribal trust land.
  • Assisted and advised numerous tribal corporations in business and finance transactions, including tax planning for a tribal Section 17 corporation’s acquisition of a state chartered corporation.
  • Advised tribal government on federal low-income housing tax credit application and partnership.
  • Prepared, submitted, and advised on fee-to-trust applications with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Assisted tribal radio station with FCC licensing.

Memberships & Awards


  • American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) Committee Articles Vice-Chair and Board Member (2021-present)
  • National Native American Bar Association, Board of Directors (2020-present)
  • Northwest Indian Bar Association, President (2016-present)
  • Northwest Indian Bar Association, Governing Council (2012-present)
  • National Tribal Land Association
  • Tribal In-House Counsel Association, Secretary
  • King County Bar Association Diversity Committee


  • National Native American Law Students Association, Alumni of the Year (2005)
  • Washington Rising Stars List, Native American Law (2017)

Resources & Ideas

Seminars & Speaking Engagements

Rights-of-Way in Indian Country, May 20-21, 2019

What Does the Future Hold for Tribal Governments Under the New Administration? A 2017 Update, May 18, 2017

Negotiating Contracts on Tribal Lands, May 11, 2017, Boise, ID

Taxation on Indian Trust Land, Tribal Land Staff Conference, March 21-23, 2017, Tamaya Resort, New Mexico

Leases on Indian Trust Land and the HEARTH Act, NBI Continuing Legal Ed, Boise, ID

Federal Indian Law
Indian National Finals Rodeo - Las Vegas, Nevada
Nov. 11, 2016

Contracting in Indian Country
NBI Continuing Legal Education
Oct. 22, 2016
Day-long CLE on Indian law and contracting with tribes and tribal organizations.

Rights-of-Ways in Indian Country II
Falmouth Institute
Sept 26-28, 2016
Advanced course on rights-of-way on Indian land, Instructor

Federal Indian Probate, Inheritance, and Cultural Patrimony, ACTEC Rocky Mountain Regional Conference, Park City Utah, Sept. 9, 2016

Tribal Self-Governance
Intertribal Environmental Council Conference - Hard Rock Hotel, Tulsa, OK
July 19-21, 2016

State Taxation of Indian Trust Land; Tulalip Tribes v. Smith – Spokane County Bar Association Indian Law Conference

Rights-of-Way in Indian Country – Idaho State Bar Association Indian Law Section CLE


  • Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Rights-of-Ways Regulations on Indian Land
    Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Rights-of-Ways Regulations on Indian Land
    January 19, 2016

Community Activities

Community Activities

  • Northwest Indian Bar Association
  • Tribal In-House Counsel Association
  • National Tribal Land Association
  • King County Bar Association Diversity Committee
  • Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Washington State Judicial Diversity Program
  • Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theater Board of Directors
  • Leadership Tomorrow, Class of 2014
  • Seattle University School of Law, Center for Indian Law and Policy Executive Council
  • Adjunct Faculty, Seattle University School of Law Center for Indian Law and Policy
  • Appellate Judge, Northwest Intertribal Court System




Arizona Federal District Court

Arizona State Courts

Navajo Nation

Oregon State Courts

Snoqualmie Tribal Court

Tohono O'Odham Tribal Court

Washington State Courts

Wisconsin State Courts

Outside The Office