The National Jurist: USD Among Top 40 Best schools for Bar Exam Preparation

Bar exam pass rates have dropped the last five years, but a new study by The National Jurist that looks at LSAT scores shows the decline should slow. The magazine looked at pass rates and LSAT scores for the classes of 2013 and 2014, using linear regression to predict bar pass rates based on median LSAT scores.

Nationwide, the median law school bar exam pass rate has dropped from 89 percent for the class of 2009 to 81 percent for the class of 2014, the most recent data available from the American Bar Association. But, based on incoming LSAT scores for current classes, bar exam pass rates will drop less than 1 percent — to 80.25 percent — by the class of 2018.

“Law schools have taken great strides to assist students and it is having a statistically valid improvement on pass rates,” said Jack Crittenden, editor-in-chief of The National Jurist. “If rates drop further, it appears it will be due to other causes than the intellectual capacity of the current classes.”

Many critics have pointed out that LSAT scores are not designed to predict bar exam success, and that first year grades are a better indicator.

The National Jurist magazine will release a report on the best schools for bar exam preparation in its Winter 2017 issue, using similar methodology to an analysis it did in Winter 2015.

Forty law schools will be recognized in the magazine as high performers, including the University of South Dakota School of Law, University of Nebraska School of Law, and University of California-Berkeley.

The study predicts bar exam pass rates using average LSAT scores, and then identifies the schools that perform better than expected. Forty law schools performed 4 percentage points better than predicted for the classes of 2013 and 2014, the most recent data available at the time of the study.

USD Law Again Named to Top 20 Best Value Law Schools

The University of South Dakota School of Law is again listedcoverfall16 among the Top 20 Best Value Law Schools by Prelaw Magazine this year coming in at 13th among over 200 accredited law schools in the U.S. Previously, USD School of Law has ranked as high as 10th Best Value (2015).

The purpose of PreLaw Magazine’s Best Value Schools is to identify law schools where graduates have excellent changes of passing the bar and getting a legal job without taking on a ton of debt.The formula for calculating the Best Value Schools takes the percentage of graduates who pass the bar exam (15%), employment rate (35%), tuition (25%), cost of living (10%), and average indebtedness upon graduation (15%).

Based on the methodology, USD School of Law ranks high due to inexpensive tuition and high employment rate; annual SD resident tuition was the second lowest of the Top 20, and held employment rates consistent with the top ranked schools.

Law School Dean Tom Geu credits strong demand for USD Law’s graduates as the biggest contributing factor to this year’s ranking. “All of legal education is in a state of flux and we are no exception”, said Geu, “but the more we change to meet current challenges; the more we hope to remain the same by continuing to provide exceptional lawyers, leaders, and business entrepreneurs to South Dakota and the region.”

USD Law Trial Team Earned Honorable Mention for “Impressive and Outstanding Performance”

USD School of Law Trial Team consisting of Briana Lear, Kayla Clark, Edward Edmonds, and Andrew Magner earned Honorable Mention for their “impressive and outstanding performance” at the California Attorneys for Justice & Hastings College of Law National Criminal Trial Advocacy Invitational Competition held in San Francisco, CA, the weekend of October 13-16, 2016.

This elite competition, which is in its 8th year, invites annually only 22 of “the best trial advocacy programs in the nation to compete.”   This is the second straight year that the USD School of Law has been invited to compete.

The competition rounds are held at the United States District Court in San Francisco. USD Law’s team was coached by Professor Tom Horton, Professor Ramon Ortiz, and Dean and Professor Emeritus Barry Vickrey.  The University of Pacific McGeorge School of law, which defeated USD in a hard fought round, went on to place second behind the Whittier Law School in the championship round.

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Left to Right: Andrew Magner, Kayla Clark, Brianna Lear, and Edward Edmonds

USD Law Moot Court Team Places 2nd in National Tournament

Alyssa Hanisch, Seth Lopour, and Ashley Brost participated in the Leroy Hassell, Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Tournament October 14th-15th in Virginia Beach. Law school students from around the nation participate in this competition and receive key insights from distinguished judges, attorneys, and professors to improve their oral and written advocacy skills. The USD Moot Court Team placed second overall.

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Alyssa Hanisch (2L), Seth Lopour (3L), & Ashley Brost (3L)

In the final round, the team faced a seven-judge panel, including justices from the Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Virginia Supreme Courts. Professor Hannah Haksgaard accompanied the team and will now be traveling with all teams to all tournaments.

If you are interested in learning more about Moot Court, stop by the Moot Court Offices at USD School of Law.

USD Moot Court Team Places Second at National Tournament

Alyssa Hanisch, Seth Lopour, and Ashley Brost participated in the Leroy Hassell, Sr. National Constitutional Law Moot Court Tournament October 14th-15th in Virginia Beach. Law school students from around the nation participate in this competition and receive key insights from distinguished judges, attorneys, and professors to improve their oral and written advocacy skills. The USD Moot Court Team placed second overall.

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Alyssa Hanisch (2L), Seth Lopour (3L), & Ashley Brost (3L)

In the final round, the team faced a seven-judge panel, including justices from the Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Virginia Supreme Courts. Professor Hannah Haksgaard accompanied the team and will now be traveling with all teams to all tournaments.

If you are interested in learning more about Moot Court, stop by the Moot Court Offices at USD School of Law.

Law Review Honors Steven W. Sanford

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Left to right: Anna Limoges (Managing Editor), Steven Sanford, Shad Christmas (Editor-in-Chief)

On October 28th, the South Dakota Law Review Editors for Volume 62 presented Steven W. Sanford with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Around 130 people came to Chef Dominique’s in Sioux Falls to celebrate Mr. Sanford’s numerous accomplishments in his legal career as well as the outstanding contributions that he has given and continues to give.  Steve W. Sanford was an Editor for Volume 19 for the Review. He was published twice during law school, foreshadowing his future success and dedication. Dean Geu said, “The Law Review Distinguished Alumni Award is one of the highest honors bestowed by Law School organizations.” Further, “[t]here is no more respected or humble a lawyer or citizen leader than Steve Sanford.”

Since graduating from the University of South Dakota School of Law, Sanford helped found what is now Cadwell Sanford Deibert & Garry LLP in Sioux Falls, practicing primarily in civil litigation. He is admitted to practice in South Dakota’s state and federal courts, the federal district courts of Nebraska and Colorado, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the United States Supreme Court. He is an elected member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Dakota School of Law, a section leader of the South Dakota Practice Course, on the faculty of the South Dakota Trial Academy, the author of numerous articles and a CLE instructor and speaker for the ABA Litigation Section,  ABA Business Law Section, ABA National Institute on Agricultural & Agri-Business Financing, American Bankers Association, and the American Agricultural Law Association.

In the course of his career, Mr. Sanford has devoted substantial time as a board member and volunteer for numerous civic and charitable causes, including the Sioux Empire United Way, the Sioux Falls Community Playhouse, the Sioux Falls High School Foundation, South Dakota Children’s Home Society, the South Dakota Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, The Washington Pavilion, the South Dakota Humanities Council, and Great Bear Recreational Park Inc. (the nonprofit operator of Great Bear Ski Valley). He is also a founder and director of Northern Prairies Land Trust and is Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.

To congratulate Mr. Sanford in receiving the award, Dean Tom Geu, President James Abbott, Douglas Deibert, and William Garry all spoke at the event congratulating Mr. Sanford for receiving the award. Their speeches included reminiscences of why Mr. Sanford richly deserved this award as well as personal memories.

The South Dakota Law Review and the University of South Dakota School of Law are proud to have an alum as honorable and accomplished as Steven W. Sanford.  He will forever be a Distinguished Alumni of the Review.  The Editors of Volume 62 thank all who attended to celebrate Mr. Sanford in being so well-deserving of this award.