February 25, 2020
Jack Duran Jr. ’02 comes from a law-enforcement family, but he was 33 years old when he decided to go back to school to study law.
Influenced by his father, a retired detective sergeant from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department and a brother who manages a Washington state parole program, Duran also enjoyed representing co-workers in negotiations with management as part of his job as a Teamsters shop steward for UPS. “I liked thinking about problems and how to solve them,” he recalls.
After earning his undergraduate degree at Sacramento State University, he entered McGeorge School of Law intending to practice insurance law. Shortly after earning his law degree and acceptance to the California Bar Association, he switched directions and was appointed as a deputy attorney general, handling cases for the California Department of Corrections, Youth Authority and Board of Prison Terms, among others.
“That was quite an experience, dealing with dangerous folks, gang leaders,” he said. “I handled a lot of cases to keep real bad guys in prison.”
Today—after a prestigious career in litigation, insurance and personal injury law—he owns a Roseville-based law practice handling a range of legal issues. Up to 40 percent of his work is on behalf of Native American individuals and tribes—thanks to a late-in-life discovery that his family is part of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, a Puebloan Native American tribal entity in the Ysleta section of El Paso, Texas whose members are Southern Tiwa people displaced from Spanish New Mexico in 1680-1681 during the Pueblo Revolt against the Spaniards.
“Indian law was something I knew nothing about,” Duran said. “I never even knew there was a different body of law for Indian tribes.”
He describes fielding 10 phone calls from Native Americans involving 20 different areas of tribal law. “There are many different practice areas,” he said. “I get to see a lot of things. One day I’ll be drafting an ordinance for a tribe, then I’ll negotiate with a federal agency, and then appear at a dependency hearing related to the Indian child welfare act or create a trust for minor children. There are so many areas of the law I must be on top of to be effective.”
Navigating the complex tribal systems, appearing in tribal court and working with families who have complicated legal issues is particularly rewarding, Duran said. “My most significant reward is when I bring families back together.”
McGeorge not only prepared him academically but provided him with myriad experiences that allowed him to develop his skills as an attorney.
“There’s only so much you can do with memorizing cases,” Duran said. “Learning how to apply the law in particular situations in different programs helped me succeed after law school. My professors were all really good, and they made you think about the law and how to apply it.”
He notes that McGeorge offers programs and opportunities for students to work with traditionally underserved diverse groups, including its Immigration Law Clinic, and his law school experiences representing refugees from South American countries were particularly rewarding. “I can’t say enough about those opportunities to get experience and work face to face with clients,” he said, “and McGeorge has a ton of them.”
Duran serves as associate justice of the Supreme Court for the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and formerly was chief tribal judge for the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in Coarsegold, California. He has successfully represented clients in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California First Appellate District, in addition to numerous tribal courts across the United States.
“I’m proud of using my experience and legal chops at every level,” Duran said. “I like to think of myself as a fairly well-rounded attorney.”
Besides practicing law, Duran is a former member of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, representing District 1, and also has served on the board of the Western Placer Waste Management Authority, the Placer County Redevelopment Agency, the South Placer Regional Wastewater Joint Powers Authority and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
He lives in Roseville with his wife, Kim, and sons Jared and Jakob, who is starting a legal apprenticeship this year.