Name: Bruce Leal
Hometown: Dedidu, Guåhan
Law School: American University Washington College of Law (AU WCL)
Graduation Year: 2024
What inspired you to go to law school?
Teaching American History and Government in an underserved school in Hawai’i exposed me to systemic inequalities in our public education system and motivated me to pursue a career in law and public policy.
What area of the law interests you and why?
As an Indigenous legal scholar committed to protecting tribal sovereignty and cultural property, I am particularly interested in the intersection of federal Indian law, intellectual property, and corporate governance. I am inspired by the growing global movement to address the harms of cultural appropriation, and I believe that copyright and trademark law can be powerful tools for protecting and promoting cultural identity and economic development for Indigenous and other marginalized communities.
What extracurriculars are you involved in and how have they impacted your experience?
I am the President of the WCL Native American Law Students Association, Co-Chair of the National Advisory Council for Equal Justice Works, and Senior Staff for the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, as well as the Intellectual Property Brief. From representing the school in two national federal Indian law moot court competitions to re-examining Indigenous sovereignty in the Pacific following the Tenth Circuit’s decision in Fitisemanu v. United States, my experiences outside of the classroom have honed my legal advocacy skills and empowered me to be relentless in the pursuit of equity.
What do you hope to achieve after you graduate?
I hope to work at the cutting-edge of technology and to explore how businesses and other entities can be structured to promote greater equity and social responsibility. Whether through public service or private practice, I am eager to translate my passion and commitment to excellence into tangible results for my clients and community.
What advice would you give to your fellow law students?
Every break, every journey requires a moment of reflection, and ours is no different. Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come, the struggles that led you here, and the reasons to fight another day. Kontra i piligru, ta fanachu – against all peril, we rise!
Why should other law students join NYSBA?
NYSBA is more than just a state bar association – it is a global organization with a powerful platform for educating and engaging key stakeholders on a wide range of legal issues. From calling on the United Nations to investigate violations of international law in Ukraine to calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the Insular Cases and advance equality for residents of U.S. territories, NYSBA is fighting the good fight. As the future of the legal profession, we are a part of this fight.