Barbara Karshmer received her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law in 1973. She has been practicing exclusively in the field of Federal Indian law since 1975. For more than thirty five years, her work has been totally devoted to representing Indian tribes and tribal organizations in court, before Congress, and before administrative agencies. In addition, she has a major portion of her time assisting tribes with internal self-government issues and with economic development opportunities. The majority of Ms. Karshmer’s work has been in the areas of tribal self-determination, tribal self-government (preparing tribal constitutions, ordinances, and policies), P.L. 93-638 compacting and contracting, employment law, Indian health law, water law, and economic development projects (including such things as a large casino and hotel, a water bottling plant, an off-road vehicle park, etc.)
Ms. Karshmer has litigated and won many important cases for tribes, including the following: She served as winning counsel in the landmark case of Rincon Band v. Califano in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the IHS method of allocating funds for health care nationwide was illegal because it created substantial underfunding for California Indians. This case resulted in IHS providing far more substantial funding for health care for Indians in California than ever before. Ms. Karshmer represented the Morongo Tribe in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case of California v. Cabazon and Morongo Bands of Mission Indians in which the Supreme Court held that under P.L. 280, the Sate of California could not prohibit gaming on Indian reservations. This case cleared the way for tribal gaming nationwide. She also represented an Alaska Native Regional Corporation in Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes v. Shalala, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which she confirmed the right of the Cook Inlet Region, Inc. to contract and compact under P.L. 93-638 in Alaska.
Another area in which Ms. Karshmer has had extensive experience is in representing tribes in the legislative arena. As one of the three primary authors of the substantial 1994 revisions to the Indian Self-Determination Act (P.L. 93-638), she actively participate in the negotiated rule-making that followed and served as one of the main drafters of the Pl> 93-638 regulations and the BIA/HIS handbook for implementing P.L. 93-638 for federal employees. She was similarly involved in drafting the Self-Governance portion of the Act and the regulations to implement that Title. In the health law arena, Ms. Karshmer was responsible for drafting several of the titles of the Tribal Version of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that was finally passed in 2010 by Congress. She has also been involved in a variety of other legislative matters for Tribes and tribal organizations.
Ms. Karshmer is a member of the California Bar and is admitted to practice in all of the federal district courts of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court.