William F. Stephens joined the firm in 2004 and became a partner in 2012. Will works in all areas of the firm’s practice, including litigation, self-determination contracting, construction and infrastructure, tribal recognition, water rights, jurisdictional and sovereign immunity issues, employment matters, oil and gas matters, tribal codes and regulations, and trust responsibilities.  Will has participated in litigation on reserved water rights, federal mismanagement of tribal oil and gas resources and trust funds, contract support costs claims against the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service, reservation boundary issues, tribal employment disputes, self-determination contract disputes with the Department of Interior, and tribal-contractor disputes.  Will has provided legal assistance to tribal clients on a wide range of construction and infrastructure projects, including drinking water and irrigation systems, health facilities, schools, detention and law enforcement facilities, and roads.  On these projects, he has assisted with drafting and negotiating federal-tribal self-determination construction contracts and funding agreements; drafting and negotiating agreements with contractors, construction managers, architects, suppliers, and engineers; preparing bid packages; navigating right-of-way, fee-to-trust, and environmental compliance issues; and litigating and negotiating contract claims.

Will served as an elected official in the District of Columbia government from 2007 to 2015, representing approximately 2,000 residents as an “Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.”  From 2010 to 2014, Will served as Chair of the elected Commission for the Dupont Circle neighborhood, an area representing approximately 18,000 residents and incorporating a substantial portion of the downtown business district, from the White House up to Adams Morgan.  Will currently serves as the appointed representative for Ward 2 on the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Council.

Will graduated from Harvard Law School after receiving his B.A. from Indiana University, Bloomington with honors and distinction and a masters degree in European Studies from the University of Bonn (Germany). 


  • J. William Fulbright Scholar (1999 - 2000)
  • Herman B. Wells Scholar (1994 - 1999)

Reported Decisions

  • The Puyallup Tribe of Indians v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 
    63 IBIA 10 (2016)
  • Shoshone Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation v. Bureau of Indian Affairs,
    61 IBIA 98 (2015)
  • Shoshone Indian Tribe of Wind River Reservation, Wyo. v. United States,
    672 F.3d 1021 (Fed. Cir. 2012)  
  • BP America Prod. Co. v. Burton, 549 U.S. 84 (2006) (amicus)


Reid Peyton Chambers and William F. Stephens, Principles of International Law That Support Claims of Indian Tribes to Water Resources, 63 UCLA L. Rev. 1530 (2016)

Preventing and Combating Terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Vienna: National Defence Academy, Institute for Peace and Conflict Management, 157pp. 2002


Harvard Law School, J.D., 2004

Center for European Integration Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitaet Bonn, Germany, Master of European Studies, 2000

Indiana University, Bloomington, B.A. in mathematics, biology, and Germanic studies, with honors and distinction, 1999

Bar & Court Admissions

  • California, 2004
  • District of Columbia, 2005
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2008
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 2006
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 2006
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 2005
  • U.S Court of Federal Claims, 2006
  • Little River Band Tribal Court