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In The News

2016-01-14

Passing of Hobbs Straus Retired Partner Frances L. Horn

The law firm of Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker regrets to announce the death on December 30 of Frances L. Horn, a retired partner of the Firm, age 100. After a remarkable career in the field of American Indian law, she retired from the Firm in 2000, and for several years more continued to give valuable advice to the Firm.

Mrs. Horn was a native of Scarbro, West Virginia. She graduated in 1936 with a B.A from West Virginia University. She went on to law school there, and graduated first in the law class of 1938. She was the first woman to chair the West Virginia Law Quarterly.

At first she practiced general law in Charleston; then in 1943 she moved to Washington D.C. to join the staff of the National Labor Relations Board. A few years later she joined the office of James E. Curry, then counsel to the National Congress of American Indians, where she worked on a variety of Indian Law issues.

In 1946 Congress had enacted the Indian Claims Commission Act, allowing all tribes to file historical claims against the United States, no matter how old. The rest of Mrs. Horn's legal career was spent primarily litigating the Indian claims that were filed under the 1946 Act.

In 1956 she moved to the law firm of Wilkinson, Cragun & Barker, one of the major law firms handling Indian claims under the 1946 Act, where she continued to work on Indian claims, becoming a respected expert in the field of Indian law and as a partner in that firm.

In 1982 the Wilkinson firm dissolved and Mrs. Horn joined the new firm of Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Wilder (today Hobbs, Straus, Dean and Walker)as a partner. She continued to work on the unfinished Indian claims cases and did pioneering work in developing legal theories for various tribal clients requiring the United States to account for its management of tribal money and other property that were held in federal trust. She also created a well-respected index to all of the rulings of the Indian Claims Commission. It has been said of her that she was the most knowledgeable person in the country on the law of Indian claims. She retired from Hobbs, Straus in 2000, at the age of 85.



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