Band member Aarik Robertson, an attorney with Consilio LLC and a member of the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, was honored with a Minnesota Lawyer Diversity and Inclusion award and featured in the October issue of Minnesota Lawyer for his contributions to diversity in the legal field.
Aarik and his fellow honorees were recognized at an awards ceremony on October 10 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Aarik is a graduate of Minneapolis South High School and the University of Minnesota, where he majored in American Indian Studies with an emphasis in Ojibwe language.
The transition from high school to a major university wasn't entirely easy. Few students from his high school attended the U, and the other Native kids he knew weren't going on to college. Living at home, he didn’t have as many opportunities to get involved on campus, but the Ojibwe language program gave him a place to fit in.
At the time, law school was not in Aarik's plans. He enjoyed studying history and political science, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his degree.
After college, he was working as a janitor at the U when someone he knew told him about a job with the American Indian Student Services Program. "That's how my professional career started," Aarik joked. "One day I was a janitor, and the next I was an admissions counselor."
After several years with the program, Aarik started thinking about professional advancement. He knew he wanted to be part of the American Indian community and learn more about tribal history and law. “The more I researched law school, the more it felt right,“ he said.
Four years after completing his three tough years at law school, Aarik is newly married and enjoying his job as a review associate assisting other lawyers with their cases.
Aarik is also involved with the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association. Even though he’s relatively new to the legal field, he has already served as the organization’s president and vice president. He’s still on the board and serves as chair of the scholarship golf tournament.
It was that work that earned him the Diversity and Inclusion award. In his work with MAIBA, Aarik made it his mission to reach out to Native law students and give them the help they needed through scholarships and other forms of assistance.
"I was a scholarship recipient, and that motivates me to give back and provide the same for the next crop of Native lawyers," Aarik said.
Eventually, Aarik sees himself working in Indian Country. He appreciates the support he has received from the community, and he wants to continue to give back. "I know the need for Native lawyers is there," he said.
Aarik advises others to follow their educational dreams and goals. "Don't deprive yourself of the opportunity," he said. "Don't let other people make life choices for you. Education is something no one can take away from you. It's valuable, and it stays with you."