Vernon L. Peterson
An affinity for history and literature first brought Vernon Peterson to the field of Indian law more than 30 years ago. He recently joined Hobbs Straus as of counsel after a long and successful career as an attorney in the Department of the Interior Solicitor’s Office. Beginning in the Solicitor’s Honor Program in the Washington Solicitor’s Office, he then transferred to the Portland Regional Solicitor’s Office, where he represented Interior agencies in the Pacific Northwest, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service from 1979-2006.
During his tenure in the Department of the Interior, Vernon became immersed in federal Indian law issues including hunting and fishing, reserved water rights, tribal jurisdiction, and tribal government. He also participated in many complex, multiparty, resource-use negotiations involving tribes, federal agencies, and state and private interests.
Among his accomplishments, Vernon acted as department counsel in the treaty fishing rights litigation, United States v. Oregon and United States v. Washington. Throughout the last several years, he served as assistant regional solicitor, supervising department attorneys handling the Endangered Species Act and federal reserved water rights litigation in the Pacific Northwest, including the Klamath Basin Adjudication and the Snake River Basin Adjudication.
While attending the law school, Vernon served as staff attorney on the revision of Felix Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law (1982 edition). He taught courses as adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School and currently serves as adjunct professor at the University of Oregon School of Law.
Vernon served in the U.S. army from 1970-1973, including a tour of Vietnam. A passionate reader, he reviews books for local publications on a wide array of topics including history, the environment, federal Indian policy, modern literature, and art.