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Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Corporate Partner

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General Background
Dorsey & Whitney LLP is one of the 100 largest law firms in the United States and offers services in more than 60 areas of legal practice in 18 offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Our diverse client base includes Fortune 100 companies and governmental and non-profit entities across the country.  Dorsey houses one of the most comprehensive Indian law practices in the United States. The Firm’s Indian Law Practice Group has consistently been rated one of the best Native American law practices in the United States by both U.S. News “Best Law Firms” and by Chambers and Partners, including being named “Law Firm of the Year” in the Native American Law practice area in 2012 by U.S. News “Best Law Firms”.  For thirty years, Dorsey has provided services to Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments across the country, and to other clients doing business with Indian tribes.
Indian Law Practice
Dorsey’s Indian Law attorneys include tribal and non-tribal members representing Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, their commercial entities, and lenders, developers and others doing business with tribes on issues of economic diversification, financing (both taxable and tax-exempt), project development, taxation, litigation, environmental affairs, and regulatory compliance.In addition to NAFOA, the group’s attorneys are active in numerous organizations in Indian country, including NCAI, NIGA, ATNI and USET. Our attorneys are frequent speakers at inter-tribal conferences, tribal economic development conferences and continuing legal education and similar conferences on current matters facing Indian country.
Representative Indian Law Work
Representative work includes: gaming and economic development financing; governmental and tax-exempt financing; federal, state and tribal tax advice planning, compliance, audits and administrative appeals; litigation in federal, state and tribal courts; arbitration and mediation; business structuring and diversification, contract and lease negotiation and drafting; federal recognition; employment, retirement plans and fringe benefits; labor organization and employment issues; land acquisition, land use regulation and fee-to-trust transfers; gaming development and regulation; governmental matters and social services; Alaska Native matters; intergovernmental relations; code development; construction law counseling and litigation; government contracts counseling & litigation; intellectual property and trademark matters; internal investigations; legal infrastructure development; and environmental matters and cultural resources.
Financing Experience
Dorsey has represented clients in the tax-exempt and taxable financing of reservation-based projects for longer than anyone in the country. While there are a number of other law firms that now practice in this area, there is no firm that has the length of service and the breadth of experience that Dorsey has in service to tribes on tax-exempt and taxable financing. Dorsey has served as bond counsel, underwriters’ counsel, borrower’s counsel, lender’s counsel, special tax counsel and letter of credit counsel in connection with scores of tribal financings. Additionally, Dorsey lawyers provide valuable legal services to clients facing financial restructuring challenges. With respect to bond financings, our attorneys have worked on the following bond structures: bonds secured by bank letters of credit; bonds payable from gaming revenues; private placements of bonds; bonds insured by bond insurance; bonds payable from P.L. 638 contract payments; bonds payable from the income of trust funds held by the Department of the Interior, and bonds payable from utility and other tribal revenues. In addition, Dorsey has represented either the tribal borrower or one or more lending financial institutions in numerous commercial bank financings including: single bank loans, “club” bank financings, syndicated bank loans and transactions that combine bank and bond financings. Dorsey has learned, and understands well, the interests, concerns and needs of the tribal financial community.
Tax Planning and Tax Controversy and Litigation
Dorsey has an extensive and comprehensive Indian tax practice representing tribes, tribal entities, tribal members, and clients doing business with tribes in all types of federal, state, and tribal tax matters. For example, we have advised numerous tribes, tribal entities, and clients dealing with tribes regarding available federal and state tax immunities and exemptions, the legal incidence of potentially applicable state taxes, application of the balancing test used in federal preemption analysis, and related tax planning. The geographic diversity of our Indian tax practice gives us unmatched depth and expertise in analyzing complex state taxing statutes to identify which party bears the legal incidence of the tax and in advising tribal clients regarding state tax immunity planning. We also have advised clients regarding enterprise and investment structuring and other economic development and investment tax planning in Indian country. We have drafted a comprehensive revision to the tribal tax code for a tribe with a large reservation. We have advised numerous tribes and tribal entities regarding compliance with applicable federal and state tax laws involving employment taxes, income taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, and other excise and transaction taxes. We have developed and drafted numerous revenue allocation plans, minors’ trust programs, adult deferred per capita benefit programs, and general welfare programs.
We also have represented tribes, tribal entities, and tribal members in numerous tax audits and administrative appeals, and we have represented tribes and tribal entities in achieving favorable IRS rulings in significant cases of first impression, as well as favorable court decisions.
For more information, please visit Dorsey’s Indian and Gaming Law practice group page.
Skip Durocher, Co-Chair, Indian Law Practice Group
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
(612) 340-7855
Mary J. Streitz, Co-Chair, Indian Law Practice Group
Dorsey & Whitney LLP
(612) 340-7813