Nell Jessup Newton

Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law

Office: 2100 Eck Hall of Law
Phone: 574.631.6789
Staff Assistant: Julie Shook
CV: View

Nell Jessup Newton became Notre Dame Law School’s tenth dean on July 1, 2009. Newton came to Notre Dame from UC Hastings College of Law, where she was the Chancellor & Dean and William B. Lockhart Professor of Law. Previously she served as dean at, first, the University of Denver College of Law and, later, the University of Connecticut School of Law. Dean Newton taught Contracts, Property, Constitutional Law, and American Indian Law at Catholic University Law School (1976-1992) and then at American University Law School (1992-1998). From 1990 to 1997 Dean Newton also taught at the Pre-Law Summer Institute for Native American Students (PLSI) at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Newton is a leading scholar of American Indian law, especially as that field intersects with federal constitutional and property law, writing frequently cited law review articles on tribal property rights and rights to self-government. She was the co-author of the third edition of one of the leading textbooks on Indian Law, Cases & Materials on American Indian Law, and is the editor-in-chief of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the only treatise on the subject. Her many law review articles have been reprinted in scholarly books on Indian law, race law, the law of reparations, and legal philosophy.

Newton earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in humanities with an emphasis on ancient Greek, and her law degree from UC Hastings, where she was elected to the Thurston Society and the Order of the Coif and served as managing editor of the Hastings Law Journal. She is active in scholarly and educational organizations, such as the American Association of Law Schools, the American Bar Association, and the Law School Admissions Council. She is a director of the National Association of Law Placement Foundation and is a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Connecticut Bar Foundation. She also served as an associate justice of the Yurok Tribal Supreme Court in 2008-2009.

Courses Taught

Law 60105 - Contracts



COHEN’S HANDBOOK OF FEDERAL INDIAN LAW (Nell Jessup Newton, editor-in-chief) (2005, 2012 eds. & Supp. 2015)

R. CLINTON, N. NEWTON, & M. PRICE, AMERICAN INDIAN LAW (3d ed. the Michie Company 1991 & Supp. 1994, 1996)

Selected Articles & Book Chapters

“Indian Claims for Reparations, Compensation, & Restitution in the United States Legal System,” in WHEN SORRY ISN’T ENOUGH (Roy Brooks ed., 1999)

Tribal Court Praxis: One Year in the Life of Twenty Tribal Courts, 22 AM. IND. L. REV. 285 (1998)

Memory & Misrepresentation: Representing Crazy Horse in Tribal Court, 27 CONN. L. REV. 1003 (1995)

Compensation, Reparations & Restitution: Indian Property Claims in the United States, 28 GA. L. REV. 453 (1994)

Let a Thousand Policy-Flowers Bloom, 46 ARK. L. REV. 25 (1993)

Indian Claims in the Courts of the Conqueror, 41 AM. U. L. REV. 753 (1992)

Status of Native American Tribal Indians Under United States Law, 1 YEARBOOK ON LAW & ANTHROPOLOGY 40 (Vienna 1986)

Federal Power over Indians: Its Sources, Scope, and Limitations, 132 U. PA. L. REV. 195 (1984)

Enforcing the Federal-Indian Trust Relationship After Mitchell, 31 CATH. U.L. REV. 635 (1982)

The Judicial Role in Fifth Amendment Takings of Indian Lands: An Analysis of the Sioux Nation Rule, 61 ORE. L. REV. 245 (1982)

At the Whim of the Sovereign: Aboriginal Title Reconsidered, 31 HASTINGS L.J. 1215 (1980)

Indian Tribal Trust Funds, 27 HASTINGS L.J. 519 (1975)

Areas of Expertise

  • American Indian law
  • Legal Education

In the News

Dean's Desk: Surveys give insight on graduates’ careers The Indiana Lawyer, October 7, 2015

The Dean's Fall 2015 Welcome Letter to Students (August 24, 2015)

Dean's Desk: Preparing for a more specialized profession The Indiana Lawyer, April 8, 2015

In Memoriam: Charles E. Rice (February 26, 2015)

The Dean's 2014 Year-End Letter to Alumni (December 8, 2014)

In Memoriam: Schierl/Ft. Howard Professor Emeritus Robert E. Rodes Jr. (November 26, 2014)

Dean's Desk: Distance learning comes of age at NDLS The Indiana Lawyer, September 10, 2014

The Dean's Fall 2014 Welcome Letter to Students (August 25, 2014)

Dean Nell Jessup Newton's Address to the Department of Classics and Program of Arabic Language and Culture on the occasion of the Senior Recognition Ceremony, College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame (May 16, 2014)

The Dean's 2013 Year-End Letter to Alumni (December 13, 2013)

The Dean's Fall 2013 Welcome Letter to Students (Aug 28, 2013)

Dean's Desk: Dean Excited to Teach, Interact More with Students this Semester. The Indiana Lawyer, July 31, 2013.

Dean's Desk: Notre Dame Law in Chicago Shows Promise. The Indiana Lawyer, March 13, 2013.

Dean Newton Speaks at BYU Law School's Bruce C. Hafen Annual Distinguished Lecture Series on The Indian Trust: The Theory that Led to a $3.4 Billion Settlement

Dean's Desk: Law Students Benefit from Alumni's Professional Experience. The Indiana Lawyer, September 12, 2012.

Dean's Desk: Notre Dame Expands Course, Clinical Offerings. The Indiana Lawyer, March 14, 2012.