Kaighn Smith

Distinguished Practitioner in Residence
Contact Information
Cornell Law School
114 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Email: ks793@cornell.edu

Bonnie Jo Coughlin
Cornell Law School
213 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
Email: bjc42@cornell.edu

Professional Biography

Kaighn Smith, Jr. leads Drummond Woodsum’s nationwide Tribal Nations Practice Group and is a member of the firm’s Trial Services Group.  He is a seasoned civil litigator in the field of federal Indian law and in civil rights, labor and employment, and contractual disputes.  Kaighn fights for tribal nations in the federal, state, and tribal courts and before federal administrative agencies across the country.  He has won cases in a wide range of areas, including jurisdiction and sovereignty disputes, gaming matters, labor and employment relations, land-in-trust and environmental matters, and fishing and water rights.

Since 2012, Kaighn has served as associate reporter (with Professors Matthew L.M. Fletcher and Wenona Singel) on the Restatement of American Indian Law for the American Law Institute. In 2011, he published the leading treatise, Labor and Employment Law in Indian Country, with the Native American Rights Fund.  He is listed in Chambers USA and in Best Lawyers in America for the category of Native American Law.


Kaighn clerked for Judge Frank M. Coffin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for Justice Louis Scolnik at the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.  He serves as Adjunct Professor of American Indian Law at the University of Maine School of Law.


B.S., University of California Berkeley, 1979
M. Phil, University of Sussex, 1983
J.D., University of Maine School of Law, 1986