Tom Murphy is an experienced Indian Law practitioner with more than seventeen years of experience working on issues such as Water Law & Water Rights, Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) matters, and litigation against the United States before joining NARF in 2023. His work is motivated by the importance of protecting tribal lands and resources (water) and cultural practices and traditions in a variety of contexts. At NARF, Tom is focusing on water rights issues and is working with the Tribal Water Institute to support Tribal Nations as they assert and defend their water rights.

Before coming to NARF, Tom held various roles, often serving Tribes and individual Native Americans. Tom started his career as a college professor, and he taught at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Southern Utah University; and Miami University of Ohio. After leaving Miami, he moved into practicing law with the New Mexico Public Defender Department. After practicing civil trial and appellate law in Albuquerque, he worked for a small law firm in Gallup, New Mexico, primarily representing individual Native Americans. In 2006, Tom began working for the Gila River Indian Community, where he served through 2023.

Find Tom on LinkedIn.


  • School of Law at Texas Tech University, J.D.
  • Texas Tech University, M.A. Communications
  • Eastern New Mexico University, B.A. Communications

Admissions to Practice

  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • United States Court of Appeals for Tenth Circuit
  • United States District Court, Arizona
  • United States District Court, New Mexico
  • Navajo Nation
  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Board Certification in Federal Indian Law from the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization (2017-2022)


  • Thomas L. Murphy, The Dangers of Overreacting to Judicial Activism, 19:1 Utah Bar Journal 38 (2006)
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