John Williams is a member of the firm’s Native American/American Indian practice team with over 20 years experience in energy and Indian law. He concentrates his practice in Indian Country business transactions, energy development, tribal law, tribal corporate structure, regulatory law, FERC compliance and other natural resources law. As the project lead for a 1,000 megawatt power plant on tribal trust land in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Williams managed a number of complex legal and business issues ranging from lease and permitting issues to tribal corporate structure and joint development agreements. He originated the concept for Yaka Energy, LLC, the first tribally-owned energy marketing firm with a national presence. Mr. Williams’ experience provided the framework for his most recently published work, Paving the Way for the Future: Potential Structures for Tribal Economic Development.
Mr. Williams brings to the Firm an excellent blend of legal, technical and business expertise. He began his professional career as a reservoir engineer with a leading oil and gas corporation. Later, he returned to law school where he specialized in Native American and natural resources law. During an internship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Mr. Williams wrote a model environmental code for use by tribal governments. This experience provided the basis for his first publication, The Effect of the EPA’s Designation for the Tribes as States on the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. Additionally, he drafted the Cherokee Nation’s original environmental code.
Mr. Williams gained in-depth energy expertise as an attorney and business development manager for a leading energy corporation and has practiced before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Comisión Reguladora de Energía in Mexico. His diverse experience in energy matters involved such areas as FERC regulated pipelines, power generation and transmission, energy marketing, and FERC compliance. He has applied his energy, business and regulatory expertise to projects in Indian Country.
Mr. Williams earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering in 1988 from The University of Tulsa graduating cum laude. He also earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1992 from The University of Tulsa. In law school, Mr. Williams was awarded both the Eastern Mineral Law Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation scholarships. He was also one of the first recipients of the Indian Law Certificate. Mr. Williams served on the Energy Law Journal as managing editor for ABA publications. Mr. Williams is completing his LL.M. in American Indian and Indigenous Law at The University of Tulsa and has served as adjunct faculty in Indian and Energy Law.
Mr. Williams is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Bar Association. He is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Tulsa. Mr. Williams currently serves as President of the University of Tulsa Alumni Association and has been very active in many community boards and events including Tulsa Global Alliance, The National Indian Monument and Institute, Kids’ World, Oologah-Talala School Foundation, Key Elementary School Foundation (founder), and Zarrow International School Foundation (founder). He formerly served as the head of The University of Tulsa’s Muscogee Creek Nation Legal Clinic.
Seminars & Lectures
Frequent presenter on energy development in Indian Country for the Muscogee Creek Nation "Doing Business in Indian Country" CLE, the Oklahoma Supreme Court's Sovereignty Symposium and OBA sponsored CLE
"The Effect of the EPA's Designation of the Tribes as States on the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma," Tulsa Law Journal, 1994
"Paving the Way for the Future: Potential Structures for the Tribal Economic Development," UCLA Indigenous Peoples Journal, 2005
Contributor to the Encyclopedia of the American Indian, Tribal Economic Development and Indian Trader and Intercourse sections, 2008
Honors & Leadership
Honors & Recognitions
Leadership Oklahoma Graduate, 2005
The University of Tulsa Alumni Board of Directors (1990-1997 and 2006-Present)
National Indian Monument and Institute Development Board (2001-2006)
Zarrow International School Education Foundation, Founding Member (2006-2007)
Tulsa Global Alliance (Kids' World Executive Committee 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006)
Key Elementary School Educational Foundation, Founding Member (2004)
Multiple Sclerosis Society (Oklahoma Chapter) Board of Directors (1996-1998)
Leadership Tulsa Graduate, 1996
Colorado School of Mines-Economic Evaluation and Investment Decision Methods, 1994
Rice University Executive Development Program, 1995
Exxon Basic reservoir engineering and logging school, 1989
Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholar, 1991
Eastern Mineral Law Foundation Scholar, 1991
Chief Editor of the Energy Law Journal, ABA Publications, 1991-1992
Community & Professional
Oklahoma Bar Association
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Bar Association
American Bar Association
Energy Bar Association