Ambassador (ret.) Keith M. Harper rejoined the firm in February 2017 following his service as the United States Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland since 2014. Ambassador Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, focuses his practice on Native American affairs, litigation, and international clients from the private as well as the public sector. Throughout his career, he has represented tribes and individual Indians. Among other matters, Ambassador Harper had, since inception of the case, represented the plaintiff class of 500,000 individual Indians, served as class counsel in the landmark Indian trust funds lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar, and negotiated settlement of the case for $3.4 billion in 2009 which represents the largest settlement of a lawsuit against the United States in history.
Previously, Ambassador Harper was a partner with the firm in its Washington, D.C. office where he continues to practice today. From 2010-2014, Ambassador Harper served as Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. He also served as a Chair for Native American policy in the 2008 Obama For America presidential campaign and then as a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team in the Energy & Environment Cluster. Prior to joining the firm, he was Senior Staff Attorney and head of the Washington, D.C. office of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) from 1995 to 2006. During his tenure at NARF, he also taught Federal Indian Law as Adjunct Professor at Catholic University Columbus School of Law and was a Professional Lecturer at American University Washington College of Law. Ambassador Harper served as a Supreme Court Justice on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians from 2007 to 2008 and as an Appellate Justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court from 2001 to 2007.
While attending New York University School of Law, Ambassador Harper served as Articles & Notes Editor of the Journal of International Law & Politics, was a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar and a Fellow at Center for International Studies. After graduation, he was law clerk to the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Ambassador Harper is the recipient of numerous awards and other recognition, including: National Congress of American Indians Special Recognition Award (2017); Cherokee National Statesman Award (2014); American Bar Association “Human Rights Hero” (2014); election to membership at the American Law Institute (2012); the Native American Bar Association, DC, Award for Significant Contributions to Indian Law and Policy (2012); LawDragon 500 (top 500 lawyers in United States) (2010); selection as one of 50 “Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal (2008); Service Award by Annual People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference for Achievements and Commitments to Justice (2010); Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2009-2013); The Best Lawyers in America® (2009-2013); Washington D.C. "Super Lawyer" by SuperLawyers magazine (2010, 2012-2013); N.Y.U. Black, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Association Outstanding Professional Achievement Honor (2009); Rockefeller Foundation Next Generation of Leaders Fellow (2002-04); University of Arizona School of Law - IPLP Colloquium Fellow (2003); Henry H. Fowler Fellow on Public Policy, Roanoke College (1999); Skadden, Arps Fellow (1995-97).
Professional & Community Activities
Americans for Democratic Action, Board Member
American Law Institute, Executive Committee, Member
American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, Board Member
American Red Cross, National Diversity Council, Chair
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Member
Federal Bar Association, Member
Indian Country Renewable Energy Consortium, General Counsel
President's Commission on White House Fellowships, Member
World Organization for Human Rights, Board Member
Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C., Past President