USD Law to Host Title IX Panel

Every university receiving federal funds is governed by Title IX, but very few students are able to articulate the policies and procedures regarding violations. In fact, many students believe Title IX to only effect athletics. In reality, the law applies to every single aspect of education, including course offerings, counseling and counseling materials, financial assistance, student health and insurance benefits and/or other services, housing, marital and parental status of students, physical education and athletics, education programs and activities, and employment.

What does a Title IX violation hearing look like? Can I bring an attorney to such a hearing? As an attorney, are your clients afforded all of the Due Process Rights as at similar hearings? Join us for a panel discussion to answer those questions and more surrounding Title IX.

  • WHEN: Monday, April 10th, 2017 5-7 P.M.
  • WHERE: USD School of Law Courtroom


  • Michelle Johnson, Ed.D., SDSU Title IX/EO Coordinator
  • David Herbster, Director of the USD Department of Athletics
  • Deborah Dodge, Director of USD Student Rights & Responsibilities

 Sponsored by Women In Law, Sports Law, BLSA, and OUTLaws

 Refreshments and a Taco Bar will be served after the panel.

*If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate, please contact Disability Services at least 48 hours prior to the event at 605-677-6389.

Title IX Panel Poster


Recent Law Review Editor-in-Chief Now Associate Attorney in Neb.

Jacobsen, Orr, Lindstrom & Holbrook, P.C., L.L.O. of Kearney, Nebraska, recently announced the addition of Elizabeth Chrisp (J.D. 2015) as an associate attorney.


Liz Chrisp

Liz received her dual Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and Political Science, with Honors, from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2010 and is a 2015 Sterling Honors graduate from the University of South Dakota School of Law, where she graduated second in her class. Liz is native to the Kearney area, having graduated from Elwood High School, and she currently resides in Amherst.

While in law school, Liz served as Editor-in-Chief of the South Dakota Law Review, competed in a national trial team tournament in Puerto Rico, and served as graduate assistant to the Dean and writing professors where she assisted in legal writing instruction and individually tutored first-year law students. She was the recipient of multiple academic and writing scholarships and twelve Deans Awards for Academic Achievement which are awarded to the student with the highest grade in each course.

Recent Graduate Presents at Trendigital 2017 Conference

Ashley Blake recently lectured on the growing trends in cyber law at the Trendigital Summit conference this last week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Her presentation, “Cyber Law and Your Business: Internet Law Essentials Your Business Needs to Know” is available online for anyone who missed the Trendigital Summit 2017.

The presentation included several cases where employees were fired for comments they made about their employers on social media. In many of her examples the employer was found to be in the wrong for the termination and had to reinstate the employee with back pay. Blake also warned that employers should consult with a cyber law attorney prior to disciplining the employee because of the post.

Blake is an associate attorney at Davenport Evans in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She graduated from Harvard University and the University of South Dakota School of Law (2016). She practices in the areas of estate planning and trust administration, trust companies, business, employment, and cyber law.

Kacey Olivier (2012) Named Equity Partner at Heidepriem, Purtell & Siegel

Kasey Olivier has accomplished much in her few years since being admitted to the bar (2012) in South Dakota. In 2015, Olivier made partner at the Heidepriem, Purtell & Siegel Law, a prestigious Sioux Falls law firm. The firm recently announced that it will change its name to Heidepriem, Purtell, Siegel & Olivier, as Olivier has been made an equity partner in the firm.

Some of her other accomplishments in the four years she has been in practice include being named a top 40 under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers Association and one of the top 10 female litigators in client sanctification in the State of South Dakota. The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys has recognized Olivier as a Top Ten Female Litigator in the realm of client satisfaction. Olivier currently serves on the Board of Governors for the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association and the Admissions Committee for the University of South Dakota, School of Law. In 2016, Olivier became the Vice President of the Second Circuit Bar Association and will become President in the Spring of 2017.

Sioux Fall Woman featured Olivier’s struggles growing up in foster care system and her journey to law school. The story illustrates how Olivier overcame adversity in the unstable foster care program and transitioning into adulthood without a support network–including having to emancipate herself from foster care as a senior in high school and having to work  70 plus hours a week just to feed herself.

Olivier hasn’t let anything in her past hold her back. Read more on page 94.

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.

Law Review Honors Steven W. Sanford


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.

Greg Yates (’72 Law Grad) Selected as USD Dakota Days Parade Marshal

Rapid City native Greg Yates, a 1972 graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law, will serve as parade marshal at Saturday’s USD Dakota Days homecoming parade.

Yates, who started his legal career in Rapid City, where he maintains a pilot office, also practices in Encino, California. He specializes in product liability, catastrophic injury, wrongful death and civil rights.

Yates has been selected as one of the top 100 lawyers in California since being admitted to the California Bar in 1974. He was also named California Lawyer of the Year in 1997 by California Lawyer Magazine. And he was a top 10 finalist for Consumer Attorneys of California’s trial lawyer of the year in 2003. He has been featured in Time Magazine, The New Yorker Magazine, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and has appeared on Frontline, American Journal, MSNBC and FOX News as a commentator.

In 2014, Yates was inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as lead singer for the Riveairs band in the mid-1960s.



US News: USD Law Students Carry Less Debt

Law Front Page

Graduates of the University of South Dakota School of Law incur far less debt than most other law schools: $57,170 after three years in 2015 compared with an average of $112,748, U.S. News found.

The magazine added USD to its US News Short List of those schools among 183 that were ranked because students graduate with less than $70,000 in debt, on average. USD’s law school ranked second-to-last in debt load. The list is separate from the publication’s overall rankings.

“This latest list once again recognizes the value that USD law provides its students,” said Tom Geu, dean of the USD School of Law. “We continue to provide a world-class legal education while paying careful attention to cost.”

USD is ranked fifth nationally in the percentage of its students who earn judicial clerkships at combined local, state and federal levels. As South Dakota’s only law school, USD grants degrees to most of its lawyers and judges. More than 85 percent of USD’s 2015 graduates are employed at law firms, in business, government or elsewhere. And it offers nine joint degrees that give law students the chance to earn a master’s degree with their J.D. in business administration, professional accountancy, educational administration, English, history, political science, public administration, psychology and administrative studies.