What We DoWhat We Do
Social Impact Litigation – Financing – Indian Law
Leger Law & Strategy, located in Santa Fe, NM, expands on its attorneys’ 26 years of experience as General Counsel to Native American tribes, minority businesses and community enterprises. In particular, our experience with national policymakers, civil rights and economic development organizations ensure the best possible representation for our clients. The firm’s areas of expertise include: impact litigation, financing, tribal law, business development, leasing, policy development, civil rights, voting rights, and cultural preservation. Leger Law & Strategy has an entrepreneurial and social impact culture. We deploy a sense of strategic thinking and in depth experience to all our work.
Perhaps just as important as our experience and educational background, is our approach to lawyering. We pride ourselves on our ability to think strategically with our clients. We proactively look for opportunities for our tribal clients to stretch their own financial resources to meet the needs of their members, such as using the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program to minimize the costs of infrastructure projects on tribal land. We strive to conserve our tribal clients’ financial resources, by encouraging them to shift the cost of our legal services to the parties who are negotiating with them in transactions for access to tribal land and resources. We know that the issues facing Indian tribes are complex and require a lot of respect for the unique customs and traditions of the tribe, while applying good problem solving skills. We know how to participate as the legal member of a team that develops and then implements strategy to accomplish ambitious goals. We are always working to improve our abilities as good listeners and advisors.
Education: Yale College (B.A. 1982); University of Texas at Austin – Development Planning, Graduate Fellow (1983-1984); Stanford Law School (J.D. With Distinction, 1987), member, Stanford Journal of International Law.
Ms. Leger has served as General Counsel to native american tribes and their business enterprises for over 26 years. Her work ranges from financing to protecting sacred sites to negotiating multi-million dollar leases; it includes the strategic development of the legal, legislative, business, economic and physical infrastructure for tribal sovereigns. After President Clinton appointed her as a White House Fellow, she worked on public/private financing of affordable housing and other community development initiatives as a White House liaison at HUD. She’s served as both issuers’ and borrowers’ counsel for tax-exempt and taxable bonds, New Markets Tax Credits, commercial and government loans for projects ranging from resorts to schools to basic infrastructure. President Obama recently appointed her to the President’s Advisory Council for Historic Preservation.
Teresa Leger is knowledgeable about complex business and financial deals and has been at the forefront of exploring new options and structures for capital financing in Indian Country. In this capacity, she has developed an expertise working with tribal utility companies, which includes securing financing for infrastructure development to assist in their formation, and has drafted tariffs, charters, and operating policies. She also has represented numerous tribes in negotiations for utility easements and rights-of-way, and has worked with clients where feasible to negotiate alternatives to rights-of-way that provide more control and revenue.
Ms. Leger also has advised a tribe in negotiations for the development of solar power on its reservation. Her innovative use of a business license as an interim negotiating tool generated revenue during the negotiations for the project, and served as a means for keeping the negotiations on track and profitable for the tribe. The project entailed an intimate knowledge of not just right-of-way issues, but also state, tribal, and federal taxation laws, public utility commission rulemaking, business structures, and financing.
In addition, Ms. Leger has extensive experience working with the New Mexico State Legislature. She drafted and successfully lobbied for tax legislation that promotes cooperation between the State and tribes and eliminates double taxation. She has won a complex redistricting cases under the voting rights act to ensure Native Americans are adequately represented in the state legislature and wrote and lobbied for voting rights legislation. She also works on housing and community development matters, negotiated the first written joint venture agreement with the Indian Health Service for the construction of a new health facility, and worked on the compacting of health services under ISDEA.
Mujeres Valerosas, 2007, Book about accomplished Latinas; National Law Journal – Top 40 attorneys under 40 (1996); featured, Reclaiming Their Voice, Native American Vote in New Mexico, 2010 documentary on voting rights; Inspired Corrido on Acequias, 2009; Hispanic Women’s Council, Las Primeras Award 2006; MANA de Norte, Brindis Award 1998; USDA-NM National Hispanic Heritage Award, 1998; Inspired and featured in, El Corrido de las Acequias, 2009 ballad recognizing work on protecting acequia rights from development. Rebellious Lawyer Speaker Series, UCLA Law School 2012/2013; 2012 White House Fellows Leadership Conference, “Creative Ways of Doing Justice”; Multiple CLEs on Developing Renewable Energy Resources, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013.
Select Current and Former Professional and Community Board Memberships
Legal – Former Vice President, MALDEF; UCLA Law School Rebellious Lawyer Speaker Series 2011 and 2012. Commissioner, ABA Commission on Women in the Profession; Stanford Law School Board of Visitors; National Hispanic Bar Association, (two-terms as Regional President); CLE Speaker on Energy, Business and Financing Issues; State Board Task Force on Women and the Profession (1989); New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association.
Community – Presidents Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; President, Homewise; Speaker, White House Fellows Leadership Conference; Vice-Chair, National Center for Genome Resources; Board, New Mexico Community Foundation; Commissioner, Las Acequias de Chupadero; Women’s Historic Marker Initiative, counsel and selection committee; New Mexico Chapter International Women’s Forum; Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee; Board, Hispanic Women’s Council; President, La Compania de Teatro de Albuquerque.
Cynthia A. Kiersnowski
Education: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Diploma in Nursing, 1975); College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico (B.S.N. cum laude 1986); University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (J.D. 1989 with Honors in Clinical Law and the Moise Prize for Judicial and Legal Ethics); She has completed additional courses in comprehensive mediation skills, family mediation and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.
Employment: Prior to entering law school, Ms. Kiersnowski was a Registered Nurse and worked in a variety of settings. From 1975 to 1978 she worked at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1978 to 1981, Ms. Kiersnowski worked at Sage Memorial Hospital on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. From 1981 to 1986, she worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, at the Indian Health Service Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As an associate attorney with the Nordhaus Law Firm from 1991 to 1993, Ms. Kiersnowski practiced in the areas of Indian and health law. She also taught Health Law as an adjunct faculty member of the University of New Mexico School of Law in the fall of 1992.
From 1993 to 1995, Ms. Kiersnowski worked as a staff attorney for California Indian Legal Services where she practiced exclusively in the areas of Indian and poverty law.
From 1991 to 1993, and from 1995 to 2001, Ms. Kiersnowski worked as an associate attorney at the Nordhaus Law Firm, where she focused on Indian law, economic development, financing transactions, developing consumer credit, employment issues, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and providing general counsel advice to Indian tribes and tribally owned business entities. Ms. Kiersnowski became a partner at the Nordhaus Law Firm in 2001.
In 2008, Ms. Kiersnowski left the law firm to focus exclusively on mediation. She returned in April, 2011 to work as Of Counsel to the Nordhaus Law Firm in addition to her mediation practice until she left to join Leger Law & Strategy, LLC in 2013. Now at Leger Law & Strategy, she focuses on mediation, economic development, financing transactions, developing consumer credit, employment issues, and provides general counsel advice to Indian tribes and tribally-owned business entities.
Sue Burnham, Sarah Lawrence College (B.A. 1997). Ms. Burnham is a paralegal and the Firm Administrator for Leger Law & Strategy. A member of the New Mexico Bar Paralegal Division, her paralegal work focuses on financing, grants, and New Mexico voting and legislative matters. Ms. Burnham also donates her time as the Coordinator of the Pet Outreach therapy dog program at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.
Claudia J. Ravanelli
Claudia J. Ravanelli, University of Southern California (B.A.). Ms. Ravanelli is a paralegal for LL&S. She is a member and former officer and director of the New Mexico Bar Association Paralegal Division. Prior to joining the firm, she retired after 15 years in public law at the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office as Special Projects Coordinator and worked in corporate and private practice with a primary focus on very complex civil litigation.
She and her husband enjoy the many wonderful aspects of living in Santa Fe and look forward to spending time with their children and grandchildren. They have been involved for many years in English Mastiff rescue.Page
What People Are Saying About Leger Law & Strategy
Conroy Chino – Owner, Chino Works
I worked with Teresa on a number of projects over the years in her capacity as a working attorney, representing tribes and tribal groups. In each situation, she took control without offending. I worked with her for almost a year on the issue of redistricting, a look every ten years at legislative and congressional districts, reshaping them based on changes in population and the census. She was devoted, passionate and persistent especially when we made our case in court. We were successful because of her courage. New Mexico’s tribes benefited from her legal brilliance.
2nd Lt. Governor Kenneth Tiller – Pueblo of Laguna
I am always impressed at how you keep your personality in your business approach. I always feel comfort in your approach and thank you for being in Laguna’s corner.
John Ulrich, President – Ulrich Consulting Group, LLC
Teresa is one of the most dedicated and hardworking professionals I know . . . her integrity and personal values coupled with her strong affinity for social justice are unwavering, which is extremely rare.
Woman of Influence 2014
Teresa Leger has been named one of Albuquerque Business First’s “Women of Influence” in New Mexico for 2014. 450+ nominees were considered and Ms. Leger was selected as one of eight honorees in the Business Services category. This designation is given each year to women across the Land of Enchantment who have shown they are “experts in the art of transforming challenges into opportunities.” Judges evaluated candidates on their professional achievement, leadership and community involvement. Albuquerque Business First featured Teresa Leger’s skills in litigation, financing & fostering collaboration at the awards ceremony on March 6.
Teresa Leger de Fernandez Appointed by President Obama
With great honor, Leger Law & Strategy announces that Teresa Leger de Fernandez has been appointed by President Obama to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Read more: http://1.usa.gov/1mVt4qD