By TRIBAL NEWS STAFF
On April 16, Puyallup Tribal member Lois Boome was sworn in as a lawyer at the Pierce County Courthouse. She talked with The News Staff about her journey and how she’s now fulfilling her dreams of working for her Tribe.
News Staff: Now that you’ve passed your bar exam, what does this mean for you and your career?
Lois Boome: I have been fortunate to work at the Tribal Law Office since May 2017 as an intern, training under John Bell and Sam Stiltner and hope to continue to do so as a Staff Attorney.
What was your journey to becoming an attorney like?
After some time of working in casinos, my husband and I were considering going back to school due to the time constraints that our conflicting schedules posed. What we were doing simply wasn’t working for us anymore; we were in survival mode and knew to get beyond that and thrive, we had to go back to school. Our paths and goals had changed since having children (three at that time), we decided to go back to school and eventually, law school. We weren’t sure how to make it work, but we knew we wanted a better life for our children. To supplement our income to offset the cost of going to school full-time we started an art business. Surprisingly, that was quite successful and is to this day.
When my husband made it to law school, I realized I enjoyed the challenge of the law and couldn’t wait to get a law degree of my own. As my youngest went to kindergarten, I went back to school too.
When it came time for me to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), my dreams were nearly crushed; I didn’t score as high as I wanted and began to question whether law school was in my future. I knew I wanted to work for my Tribe so I decided to get a Masters of Public Administration specializing in Tribal Governance. While there, a professor (a lawyer) heard that I had opted for an MPA rather than law school. He assured me that, “Everything I’m teaching you is pretty much law school-lite.” He encouraged me to pursue law school: I did and was accepted!
That first year had taken a lot of time, and the business had taken second priority. As summer approached, it was time to find an internship and I wanted to figure out how to intern at the law office. One of the Council members connected me with Sam Stiltner, Law Office Director at the Tribe. While schedules didn’t work that first summer, Sam had urged me to contact him for the following summer.
I did and my office was across the hall from John Bell. That first day, he gave me a quick overview of the legal history of the Puyallup Tribe. Right then I realized, this is exactly what I want to do. Our Director, Sam, has always been a great mentor on everything related to fishing. It has been an incredible experience working with everyone in the law office and other departments.
What’s your advice to someone considering going to law school?
Don’t be scared, it’s not as big of a deal as people think. You put yourself out there and can’t be afraid by the possibility of hearing no. No one likes rejection, but when you know why you want to do it, figuring out how to make it work is easy.
What does it mean to you as a Puyallup Tribal member, to work for your community?
I wanted to give back to the Tribe because of the opportunities it has afforded me, I wanted to show my children it can be done. I’m doing a lot of Realty, Land Use/Planning, and Fisheries Habitat work. Expanding the reservation is powerful, and protecting treaty rights is crucial to our survival. I am fortunate to work with people that also want better for the Tribe. It is more rewarding than I could have imagined. We all work together making the Tribe stronger and protecting our inherent rights as a sovereign nation.