Keith C. Smith is the founding partner of Smith, Shellenberger & Salazar, LLC, and he leads the firm’s Tribal and Federal Indian law practice.
Keith founded Smith, Shellenberger & Salazar, LLC in 2004, and he has been the majority owner and managing partner since that time. Keith has been practicing Tribal and Federal Indian law since he received his juris doctorate degree from the Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 1997. As such, his experience in in Tribal and Federal Indian law is unparalleled to many working in the field. In addition to practicing Tribal and Federal Indian law, Keith’s practice also includes domestic relations, land issues, business law, employment matters, general civil litigation, and minor criminal offenses.
Prior to establishing the firm, Mr. Smith held a position as a visiting professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he taught Federal Indian Law, Family Law, and Contracts, and as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Keith continues to present as a guest lecturer and speaker at numerous venues, such as the University of Colorado, University of Denver, Arizona State University, Metro State College, Colorado State University, American Indian College, Dine College, National Indian Education Association, National Conference, Indigenous Bar Association, British Columbia, and many others.
Prior to serving as a professor, Keith served as in-house counsel and senior administration director for the American Indian College Fund (“AICF”). While serving as in-house counsel, Keith advised the AICF on all legal matters facing the AICF and was instrumental in the creation and establishment of employee and management procedures. He also provided contract supervision for construction projects for 31 tribal colleges and universities in the United States - an approximate $31 million project. Each year, Keith assisted the AICF in providing counsel for each of the colleges belonging to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (“AIHEC”), during legislative hearings with the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C. He later accepted a position as Director of the Indian Legal Program at the Arizona State University College of Law, where he worked to further develop the law school's Federal Indian Law curriculum and helped nurture and maintain many relationships with American Indian tribal nations. In addition, he managed the school's recruitment efforts of enrolling native law students and was an active member of law school's admission's committee.
Immediately following law school, Keith served as a staff attorney for the Navajo Nation’s DNA Peoples' Legal Services firm in Farmington, New Mexico. While at DNA Peoples' Legal Service, he worked in the areas of family law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, contracts, consumer law and landlord/tenant; he worked with issues regarding the Navajo Housing Authority, representing tenants.
Keith received his Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder with honors. While in law school, Keith clerked for the Chief Justice of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community where he drafted and wrote the Community's Domestic Violence Code. The Code was enacted in 1997. Keith served as the Vice President of the Native American Law Student Association while in law school. He also received the distinction of being named a Chief Manuelito Scholar throughout college and law school earned a nomination to the prestigious honor society Phi Theta Kappa.