Catherine F. Munson

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 200, Washington, DC USA 20004


Catherine Munson is co-leader of the Native American Affairs practice. She has extensive litigation experience, representing tribal clients in a wide variety of complex cases before the Court of Federal Claims, federal district courts, federal appellate courts, the United States Supreme Court and administrative agencies. Ms. Munson specializes in water-related litigation and in advising clients on water matters, including water marketing, leasing, storage, protection of water quality, water regulation, and code drafting. Ms. Munson regularly advises clients on dealings with the Department of Interior and enforcement of the United States’ trust responsibility.

Ms. Munson is a regular speaker at Indian law conferences and co-chairs a tribal water law seminar each year.

Ms. Munson was awarded the Managing Partner Pro Bono award for her work on behalf of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe in southern New Mexico. Ms. Munson has been recognized in 2023 and the seven years immediately preceding as a Washington D.C. “Super Lawyer” for Native American Law and as a 2013 Washington D.C. “Rising Star” for General Litigation by Super Lawyers magazine. Ms. Munson was listed in the 2020, 2021, 202, 2023 and 2024 editions of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for Native American Law and she was also ranked nationally as a “Recognized Practitioner” for Native American Law in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Ms. Munson was recognized in 2024 and the three years immediately preceding by The Best Lawyers in America® for Native American Law.


Represented the Ak-Chin Indian Community in litigation against irrigation districts degrading the Community’s Central Arizona Project water with groundwater. Successfully worked with multiple stakeholders to obtain a favorable settlement resulting in protection of the Community’s water.

Negotiated favorable settlement of multi-party claims related to 100-year lease of tribal water.

Lead counsel for the Ak-Chin Indian Community in its case against the Central Arizona Water Conservation District involving Ak-Chin’s congressional confirmed water settlement. Successfully obtained summary judgment in favor of Ak-Chin confirming Ak-Chin and the United States’ interpretation of Ak-Chin’s settlement Act resulting in additional water being delivered to Ak-Chin on an annual basis.

Lead counsel for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in its case against California water districts seeking a declaration and quantification of Agua Caliente’s federally reserved rights to groundwater. The Agua Caliente Tribe seeks to enjoin the water districts from further infringing on the Tribe’s federal rights by degrading the water quality in the Coachella Valley and over drafting the aquifer. The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Tribe holding it has a federally reserved right to groundwater. The matter is pending.

Successfully represented tribe in connection with self-governance funding and negotiated favorable settlement resulting in a substantial increase in annual funding for the tribe.

Successfully negotiated substantial settlements for four tribal clients in actions against the United States for mismanagement of trust funds and assets.

Successfully represented the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in an action seeking to enforce the United States’ obligation to affirm or deny the Tribe’s amended gaming compact.

Successfully represented a Tribe and more than 1,000 allottees in a complex class action trespass claim against the United States regarding an expired transmission line right-of-way. The matter involved obtaining favorable rulings from both the United States Court of Federal Claims and the District Court for the District of Arizona.

Represented one of the most successful gaming Tribes in the country in a case before the National Labor Relations Board, defending the Tribe’s sovereign authority to apply its own Tribal employment laws in place of federal law. Also represented Tribe on campaign strategies prior to and during elections.

Obtained the first discovery ruling by a federal court requiring that the United States search through 34,000 boxes of records it stored at the American Indian Records Repository (AIRR) in Lenexa, Kansas. Prior to this decision, the United State required tribes to bear the burden of searching for the records.


Emory University School of Law J.D. (1999)

with honors

Vanderbilt University B.A. (1995) Political Science, cum laude


District of Columbia (2009)

Georgia (1999)

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

U.S. Court of Federal Claims

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

U.S. Supreme Court

Professional & Community Activities

Law360, Native American Editorial Advisory Board (2023)

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