Reflecting on 50 Years of Law Practice

Alumnus looks back on 50 years of administering the law, including restoring land and mineral rights for the Crow Tribe.

On his path to 50 years as a lawyer, Charles Cervantes, BA ’69, JD ’73, forged a road less traveled. His busy time at UT helped prepare him for a half-century of practicing law. However, his first year was a grind that included endless study, teaching courses at Huston-Tillotson College, and summer work as a carpenter. Cervantes was also a National Guardsman who spent time among his fellow paratroopers at Camp Mabry with the 371st Airborne Support Battalion.

Beginning his career with the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, he later entered private practice and prevailed in cases against his former employer. One such case challenged the interpretation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, whereby an erroneous survey of the eastern boundary of the Crow Reservation wrongfully took thousands of acres away from the Crow Tribe for more than a century. Under a settlement, some 82,000 acres were returned to the Crow Tribe, along with mineral, water, and fishing rights and a $100 million cash settlement.

While the case was professionally satisfying, Cervantes took far more pride in living among members of the tribe and participating in their culture on the reservation—fishing and swimming in the Little Bighorn River and participating in a “sweat,” an unforgettable religious experience with Chief Real Bird and Medicine Man Old Coyote.

Cervantes continues his practice today on a select basis and fondly reflects on 50 years, hoping that the next generation of UT lawyers will each reach their own milestones in administering the rule of law.


Tags: , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment