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University of South Dakota (School of Law)

The University of South Dakota School of Law offers you a high quality legal education at an affordable cost, in a small, friendly school with many opportunities for specialized instruction and personal assistance. With a total student enrollment of approximately 220, our student-faculty ratio is one of the best in the United States.

Our many course offerings are varied and responsive to the evolving and dynamic needs of the legal profession. We offer a broad range of electives after students have taken the traditional first-year curriculum, including programs in natural resources law, health law and policy, American Indian law, and business and capital formation. A broad array of co-curricular activities and professional events is available to enrich you educational experience.

Our faculty is a diverse and highly accomplished group of dedicated teachers and scholars selected from across the country. Our students also come from many states and, upon graduation and admission to the bar, enter law practice not only in South Dakota but also throughout the nation.

We teach and learn in a well-designed facility built in 1981. Individual study carrels are available for students in the law library. The building also contains a modern courtroom, classrooms, computer research laboratory, and videotaping facilities.

The mission of The University of South Dakota School of Law is to prepare the lawyers and judges who will administer the Federal, state, and American Indian Tribal Justice systems in South Dakota and to provide a legal education to South Dakota residents, along with nonresidents who choose to attend the school, which will serve as a solid foundation for the practice of law or other professional careers anywhere in the world.

We do this by providing a doctrinal and humanistic education, supplemented by skills and technical training, in which classroom study and practice skills are of complementary value.

As a state public institution and the only law school in South Dakota, it has a special obligation to provide a basic law degree program of high quality professional graduate level education in order to produce a pool of lawyers to meet the current and future needs of South Dakota and to afford qualified South Dakota citizens the opportunity to enter the practice of law in any state.

It is also a special obligation of the law school to engage in scholarly legal research and service in order to meet community, tribal, state, national, and international needs, to support instruction, to expand knowledge of the law, and to improve the legal infrastructure including that for the pursuit of justice.

The School of Law enjoys strong support from its graduates and members of the South Dakota Bar. The Law School Foundation provides many scholarships and awards for student achievements. Strong ties with graduates and members of the bar facilitate our efforts to assist students and graduates in obtaining employment through the career counseling office.

The University of South Dakota School of Law seeks to attract graduates of approved colleges and universities who have made a commitment to study law and who possess superior intelligence, sound judgment, good moral character, and a willingness to devote themselves to the service of others and the improvement of the legal profession.

The Law School recommends that students contemplating a career in law take courses which require them to develop conscientious study habits, analytical skills, and critical thinking. The law school applicant should be highly literate and should have developed a discriminating regard for facts, a capacity to make critical judgments, and the ability to engage in inductive and deductive reasoning.

Evidence of an applicant's intellectual maturity is more important in making admission decisions than his or her major in undergraduate or graduate school. There is no prescribed or recommended pre-law curriculum. Undergraduate majors in entering classes range from political science, history, economics, business, and English, to foreign languages, sciences, engineering, mathematics, and the arts.

The School of Law provides equal opportunity for the
study of law and entry into the legal profession in
accordance with policies of the South Dakota Board of
Regents, the governing body for higher education in
South Dakota; the Council of the Section of Legal
Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American
Bar Association, the accrediting agency for United States law schools; and the Association of American Law Schools, a nonprofit corporation that promotes
improvement of the legal profession through legal
education and of which the School of Law is a member.

The School of Law building, completed in 1981, has
received national recognition for its design. The Law
School’s balconied courtroom situated in the middle of
the building is the architectural focal point within the
Law School. The courtroom is fully wired with
state-of-the-art video-conferencing technologies, and has an adjoining audio-visual control room and judges’
chamber. The courtroom serves as an assembly hall for
the student body.
The building also contains two large classrooms, three
smaller classrooms, a computer laboratory, a student
commons, kitchenette, and locker area, and suites of
offices for faculty, administration, and student
The student organization suites contain study carrels for
member use. The Law Library has over 225 study seats, including 160 carrels assigned to members of the
student body.

The Law School building has wireless and wired
capability. The students have a choice of wireless or
hard wire connectivity throught the building. The
classrooms and the Law School’s courtroom are
equipped with the latest technology.
Campus IT Personnel will provide support if you have a
PDA with a Palm OS 4 or higher. Handheld devices will
need to be configured to the University settings.

Computer access in the computer lab is excellent, with a
ratio of about one computer for every 14 students. The
computers in the lab are equipped with access to the
Internet, Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw on-line research
services, computer-assisted learning exercises in a
variety of subjects, access to numerous legal
applications, word processing software, and an Internet
on-line catalog for all South Dakota libraries.

The Career Services Office at The University of South
Dakota School of Law offers resources and assistance in job-search strategies and career planning to alumni/ae
and all students. The most visible career services
initiative for students is on-campus interviewing. Dozens
of employers visit the Law School each year to interview students for summer internships, judicial clerkships, and permanent attorney and other positions. The fall intern interview fair is designed primarily for secondyear students looking for paid summer internships.

Third-year students looking for permanent positions may
participate in on-campus recruiting by employers
throughout the year, with the assistance of the Law
School. Resources are continuously updated and expanded to assist students in their job searches. Resources available to all students and alumni on an ongoing basis include the Career Services & Alumni Newsletter, containing up-to-date job listings. It is provided electronically to alumni expressing an interest in receiving it and posted on an electronic bulletin board for law students. The USD Law School also exchanges job bulletins with many other law schools across the nation.

Various career resources are available in the McKusick
Law Library Reserve Room, including the Martindale-
Hubbell directory and several books offering suggestions on writing cover letters and resumes and on job-search strategies. Some materials are available to students for limited, in-library check out.
The Assistant Dean, who directs the Career Services
Office, other deans, and many faculty are available to
advise and assist students in their job searches,
including resume review and contact coordination with
alumni in South Dakota and elsewhere.

The Career Services Office also assists students seeking information about Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs and in considering curricular career tracks in various areas of law, including environmental law, Indian law, health law, banking law, international law, and intellectual property law. Students are encouraged to visit with the deans and faculty advisors to discuss curricular and career planning.
Information is also available on alternative ways to use a
law degree. This information, in conjunction with the
availability of joint degree and dual degree programs,
provides students an opportunity to explore and prepare
for various careers.

The three-story McKusick Law Library is equipped to
meet the research needs of students, faculty, and
members of the Bar. It is South Dakota’s largest and
most complete law library, providing essential research
services to the courts, legislature, government agencies, lawyers, private citizens, and students conducting interdisciplinary research.

The book and microform collections include court
reporters, statutes, and other legal authorities. The
library maintains over 1,800 active serial subscriptions,
and the microform collection provides access to
Congressional documents and records of the Supreme
Court of the United States. An on-line catalog affords
immediate access to the catalogs of other university and
public libraries throughout the state and region.
As a member of several consortia of law, academic, and public libraries, the McKusick Law Library has access to interlibrary loan materials. In addition to the Law Library, the I.D. Weeks Library serves The University of South Dakota generally and provides supplementary support for the study of law through its collections and holdings.

Our students derive a direct benefit from restricted
enrollment: a responsive and encouraging environment.
The total enrollment in The University of South Dakota
School of Law is approximately 220 students. This low
enrollment contributes to the quality of legal education.
It also facilitates the development of close associations
among the members of the Law School community and
creates a setting in which individual student questions
and concerns can be addressed. Students, faculty,
administration, and staff become well-acquainted and
develop enduring friendships with each other.

Students at the Law School are a highly selective group
who have demonstrated intellectual aptitude and
personal characteristics desirable in the law profession,
such as a desire to serve others. They are friendly and
supportive of each other, both educationally and
personally. Students come from many colleges and
universities and have a variety of backgrounds.
The Law School faculty members are energetic, highly
motivated, and committed to continuing excellence in
teaching, scholarship, and public service. They received
their own primary legal training at law schools
throughout the nation, and several members of the
faculty have earned additional degrees in law and related disciplines. Beyond their formal academic credentials, faculty members have a breadth of experience that gives depth to their stimulating and often innovative teaching techniques. They have significant practical experience in law firms, government, the judiciary, business, and other organizations.

The faculty is a community of active scholars who have
written books, monographs, law review articles, and
teaching materials. Many of the professors have been
instrumental in drafting legislation; many have conducted
continuing legal education programs in South Dakota and
elsewhere. This essential public service is a natural administration provides the supervision and guidance
necessary to ensure the delivery of superior service by
the School of Law. In addition to administering the
instructional program and promoting the interests of the
School in the University, community, bar, state, and
nation, the administration oversees such vital matters as
career development, admission, student affairs, faculty
recruitment and development, and alumni relations.
The staff is a group of highly personable and dedicated
individuals that provide valuable service to faculty,
administration and students alike. The staff, who will
likely know your name very soon after your arrival, is a
highly valued and vital part of the Law School
community. The Law School community functions much
more efficiently because of their professional and
friendly assistance.

The University of South Dakota School of Law has one of the more favorable student-faculty ratios in American
legal education. The faculty consists of 14 full-time
professors, one part-time professor, and adjunct faculty
with whom students exchange ideas, study law, and
meet the rigorous challenges inherent in legal education.
The deans and library director also teach regularly.
The student-faculty ratio and limited enrollment facilitate
faculty accessibility, increased student participation in
the classroom, and individualized career counseling

A primary objective of the Law School curriculum is to
develop analytical and other skills that are fundamental
for the legal profession. The faculty employ a variety of
pedagogical techniques to achieve that objective,
including Socratic dialogue, the case method, lecture,
and simulation. The curriculum is designed to familiarize
students with basic legal doctrines and to instill in them
the values of the legal profession and the judicial

Students also have the opportunity to participate in a
wide variety of co-curricular activities at local, regional,
and national levels. These student activities complement
the formal components of the curriculum and assist in
the development of legal skills. Skill building activities
include, but are not limited to, participation in the South
Dakota Law Review, the Great Plains Natural Resources
Journal, the Moot Court Board, and the Client Counseling
and Negotiation Board.

The School of Law offers a joint degree program leading
to the juris doctor degree and masters degree from The
University of South Dakota in three years in the
following disciplines:

School of Business
JD/Master of Professional Accountancy
JD/Master of Business Administration

Cross-Disciplinary Studies
JD/Master of Science in Administrative Studies

School of Education
JD/Master of Arts in Education Administration

College of Arts & Sciences
JD/Master of Arts in English
JD/Master of Arts in History
JD/Master of Arts in Political Science
JD/Master of Public Administration
JD/Master of Arts in Psychology

Admission to the joint degree program is a formal
process which requires approval from the School of Law, admission to the participating master’s program, and is conditioned upon a cumulative grade point average of at least 75 upon completion of the first year of Law School or a subsequent semester.

Students admitted to this program take courses
concurrently leading to both degrees in three years.
Students may receive up to nine credit hours toward the
90 credit hours required for the juris doctor degree. The
amount of law credit accepted in a master’s program is
determined by each program. Law students may not
receive law credit for more than one course each
semester outside of the School of Law without
permission of the Associate Dean. If students do not
complete the requirements for the master’s degree by the time of their graduation from law school, only six (6)
hours of the credit earned toward the master’s degree
will be counted toward law school graduation

Although law students may not begin the joint degree
program until successfully completing at least the first
year of law school with a cumulative GPA of 75,
applicants to the School of Law may simultaneously
apply for admission to any master’s program approved as a joint degree program. Students not simultaneously
applying to the School of Law and to a master’s program
may apply for the joint degree program until the end of
their fifth semester in the School of Law.

Application and acceptance to a master’s program is the
applicant’s responsibility. Classes taken in a master’s
program prior to matriculation in the School of Law will
not receive law school credit. Only those courses
approved as a graduate course for this program will
qualify for law credit.
Law students must have a cumulative grade point
average of 75 to be admitted to and continue in the joint
degree program. Non-law courses taken in the joint
degree program are not used in computing a student’s
cumulative grade point average. Law students must
obtain a grade of “B” or better in the approved graduate
course in order to receive law school credit.

Second- and third-year law students may take up to six
credit hours in other divisions of the University and
apply them to the 90 credit hours required for the juris
doctor degree. The School of Law extends this privilege
so that a law student may broaden his or her education
by the pursuit of new disciplines. Students desiring to
exercise this option may register for one of the courses
on the list of approved courses (found in the Curriculum
Guidebook at without obtaining
special approval. If students wish to take a course not
on the list, they must submit their request and reason in
writing to the Office of the Dean for approval before
registration. Approval will not be granted for courses on
topics which are covered by courses offered in the
School of Law, such as administrative law, constitutional law, and business law.

Only in exceptional circumstances will a student be
permitted to receive law credit for more than one
interdisciplinary course per semester. As an exception, a student will be allowed to receive six credits of approved non-law courses to be taken in the summer. Students with less than a cumulative grade point average of 75 are ineligible to take courses outside the Law School.

Interdisciplinary non-law course grades are not used in
computing a student’s cumulative grade point average.
In addition, law credit will not be given for courses taken
prior to entry to Law School, or in a previous academic
period while in Law School if approval was not obtained.
Law students must complete an interdisciplinary form
provided by the Office of the Dean in order to receive
law credit if the course is not on the list of approved
courses. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain
permission from the outside instructor to take the
interdisciplinary course.

Law students taking approved interdisciplinary courses
in other schools of the University are subject to the rules
and regulations of the college or school governing the
program and courses they are taking. In addition,
admission to these courses will be governed by the
regulations of the department or school in which the
student takes the course.

School name:University of South Dakota School of Law
Address:414 E. Clark St.
Zip & city:SD 57069 South Dakota

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