Brett Lee Shelton lawyer and attorney specializing in tribal law and native american rights

Of-Counsel Attorney: Brett Lee Shelton

“I like to work with a client, not just on their behalf.  At my law school, we were on the cutting edge of learning how a client-centered approach is most successful in courts, boardrooms, on the streets, and anywhere else lawyers work.”  


Stanford University, Juris Doctorate
University of Kansas, Master of Art
Baker University, magna cum laude

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Fellow Of-Counsel Attorneys:

Amber D. McClain


Brett Lee Shelton helped found the law firm Smith & Shellenberger, LLC so that he could focus his practice of law on helping clients protect the people, things, and interests they hold closest to them.

Brett went to law school after several years in business—in order to address the problems he saw with the responsiveness of lawyers when he was in his own business as an environmental consultant. He pursued this opportunity in hopes it would empower him to help people make their dreams into reality, and help them to protect the people, things, and interests they hold closest to them. He has shaped his practice at Smith & Shellenberger, LLC into one that emphasizes the importance of a relationship based on trust between attorney and client. He dedicates himself to the needs of growing families and business owners by focusing on Wills and Estate Planning, Small Business, and Tribal Law and Enterprises. With a long career across a broad range of legal issues, he can help spot and guard against difficulties before they happen, in addition to helping you navigate through current problems. Brett’s practice model is to become a trusted advisor to selected families and businesses, helping them in a wide variety of legal areas.

His post-law school career gave Brett experience across a broad range of legal areas. This included: assisting hundreds of victims of domestic violence with their civil cases for a nonprofit agency, serving as an organizer for international groups of indigenous peoples in biotechnology evaluation, policy analysis in health care for a national tribal nonprofit organization, and as a research attorney for a respected national litigation firm. He entered private practice in 2006 and found that the sweet spot in his practice is helping others guard against the biggest problems before they even happen. His secret to this is using client-centered interactive planning and establishing lasting relationships—much more than the law firm norm of drafting appropriate documents and sending the client on their way. During his early career, Brett became increasingly aware that many aspects of the traditional law practice model simply do not serve clients in a way that establishes the relationship necessary to provide the best services. At Smith & Shellenberger, LLC, Brett has shaped his practice into one that is more appropriate for serving his clients’ best interests. He has established programs that focus on flat fees to eliminate surprises due to hourly billing. He is able to develop teams of professionals so that clients needs and concerns are quickly addressed, and without the fear of unexpected fees. He has implemented membership programs to help clients’ matters be kept up to date. And has been able to help clients use the legal system and sound advice to protect much more than their financial interests.

While at Stanford Law School, he was honored by the Foundation of the State Bar of California with an Exceptional Merit Award for Public Service Leadership, and he received the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Award and Scholarship, the John Milton Oskison award for best graduate student paper, and was named American Indian Graduate Student of the Year. He is currently licensed to practice law in various courts including California, Colorado, South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as well as several United States courts.

His publications include Issue Brief: Legal and Historical Roots of Health Care for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, Publication #7021, (Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, February 2004); “The Legal and Historical Basis of Indian Health Care” in Promises to Keep: Public Health Policy for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the 21st Century, (Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, 2001); “Genetic ‘Markers’ are Not a Valid Test of Native Identity”, with Jonathan Marks, in GeneWatch, (Cambridge, MA: Council for Responsible Genetics, Winter 2000); Indigenous Peoples, Genes, and Genetics (Wadsworth, NV: Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, 2000); Tribal Perspectives on Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance in Health Care Management (Denver: National Indian Health Board, 1998); “A View from the Front Lines: Current Status of Four Water Rights Cases,” Water Resources Update, no. 107, (American Resources Council, Spring 1997); Intellectual Property Rights: An Overview (Boulder, CO: Native American Rights Fund, 1996). His public speaking engagements and radio interviews have been numerous across the U.S., Canada, and Aotearoa/New Zealand, and he has also given educational presentations in Tonga and Greenland.

Outside of the office, Brett enjoys many different outdoor activities and carries his creative being outdoors in many different activities, as well as engaging his creativity through original jewelry designs.