Like many in her class, law student Andrea Snowball came to Creighton University School of Law to make a better life for herself and to help members of her community. Snowball’s community is Native American.
“I am a Winnebago tribal member by blood, but not on paper,” Snowball said. “I am enrolled with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma.”
Snowball was elected in the spring of 2019 to serve as treasurer for the National Native American Law Students Association. During her first year of law school, the current second-year student served as a representative for Area 8, which comprises Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming. While Creighton has no active student organization for native students, Snowball hopes to get others interested in Native American law while still in law school.
Snowball spoke about why Creighton’s law school appealed to her and what she hopes to do with her law degree upon graduation.
Why did you choose Creighton University School of Law?
Creighton was my first choice because it has a great reputation for providing an affordable high-quality education and a great student experience. I appreciate the diversity of the student body and that it is located near downtown Omaha. Law appeals to me as something with order and reason, and I craved that in my life. I did not grow up in the best of circumstances and am the only one of four children who is not a felon or drug addict. While in junior high school, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but, for various reasons, didn’t follow through on that dream until now. I earned my undergraduate degree in business administration at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. For the past five years, I’ve been a legal secretary/paralegal at a law firm dedicated to representing native tribes and organizations. I really enjoyed the work. However, I realized I did not want to do support staff work forever and thought “Why not me? I can be a lawyer.”
How do you hope to use your law degree?
Ideally, I would like to return to the law firm I previously worked for. Working in Indian country and—more specifically for the Winnebago people—would be wonderful. I want to work primarily with the tribal government to effect change that will benefit the people, but also for individual tribal members providing legal services that are lacking. Throughout my life I have noticed a major deficit in the availability of attorneys knowledgeable in tribal law, licensed to practice in tribal courts, aware of cultural differences or even willing to work with Indians. I think this is an issue both on and off the reservation.
Have you had any inspiring mentors during your life who have influenced your decision to pursue law as a career?
Yes, my former boss Danelle Smith is a huge inspiration and has been a wonderful mentor to me. She grew up in Winnebago [the reservation that is seated within the counties of Thurston and Dixon in Nebraska and Woodbury in Iowa] and went to the University of Iowa College of Law while she was a single, working mother with three young sons at home. She is incredibly smart and hard-working and is a great role model. I value her support and advice and will be happy if I become even half as great of an attorney as her. I also have a lot of respect for Danelle for returning to Winnebago after earning her JD to work in the community. Many people who leave the reservation to pursue degrees do not return to work there after graduation.
How have family members or others in your community reacted to you attending law school?
Everyone in my family and community has encouraged me to strive to reach my goals. My husband has been amazingly supportive and continues to cheer me on. I am not the only one making sacrifices so that I can go to law school. I appreciate everything that he and my sons are doing so that I can be here. The fact that they, and the rest of my family, are happy that I am challenging myself and growing is a major motivation to work hard and make them proud. Their hopes and dreams for me after completing my JD are the same as my own, and that is a good feeling to have.