USD Law Bid Day Announcements

April 7th, 2017, was bid day at USD School of Law; a day where student organizations send out bids to prospective members to join. Gaining membership onto one of the University of South Dakota School of Law Board organizations is no easy task. Students must compete (e.g., “write-on,” Sam Masten Tournament, Client Counseling Competition, etc.), apply, and interview for the limited but highly sought after positions.

The Boards would like to announce their newest members-

The South Dakota Law Review:

  • Alayna Ackerman; Stacia Berg; Matthew De Jong; Derek Friese; Alexa Moeller; Nicholas Ramos; Erica Ramstad; and Jacquelyn Wilson.

The Moot Court Board:

  •  Lucas Elsbernd; Matt Lucklum; Tracy Miller; Hannah Purtell; Ben Selbo; Erin Willadsen; and Catherine Vietor.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Board:
  • Ryan Anderson; Whitney Denning; Candice Gullickson; Paige Petersen; Olivia Siglin; and Johnathan Stien.

Each group would like to congratulate their newest members and give many thanks to those who applied.


USD Law Sam Masten Tournament: Jacquelyn Wilson Winner

The annual USD School of Law’s Sam Masten Moot Court Tournament concluded on March 27th, 2017, with the final round held in the USD School of Law courtroom. Named after Samuel W. Masten (USD Law ’46) a beloved litigator in South Dakota, the tournament consisted of thirty-two participating first-year law students presenting oral arguments in a hypothetical case, where each student had researched and prepared an appellate brief. Each first-year student then presented their arguments before volunteer judges including the Moot Court Board, alumni of USD School of Law, attorneys, judges and faculty.

Jacquelyn Wilson of Lemmon, South Dakota, became this year’s Sam Masten champion, narrowly defeating Kate Vietor, from Lennox, South Dakota. The final round was argued in the Law School Courtroom before members of the South Dakota Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, and state circuit court Judges.


Jacquelyn Wilson, final round arguments

“The Sam Masten tournament allows the first-year students to take what they have learned in the Fundamental Legal Skills course and apply it in a real-world setting,” said Branden Nethken, President of the Moot Court Board. “There are very few law schools in the nation in which first-year students get to present oral arguments before practicing lawyers, judges, and justices.”

Best Brief Awards were also given to Hannah Purtell and Tracy Miller.


Hannah Purtell, Professor Hess, Tracy Miller, Professor McKey

The Sioux Falls law firm of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith hosted a reception, open to all students, faculty, staff and others who helped or participated, immediately following the final round.

Two USD Law Students Attend National Indian Law Moot Court Tournament at UCLA

The National Native American Law Student Association (NNALSA), in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (UCLA) and the UCLA Chapter of NALSA, hosted the 25th Annual NNALSA Moot Court Competition on March 8th. The Moot Court Competition featured 64 teams from 30 schools from across the country. Jessica FourBear (3L) and Moreau FourBear (2L) represented the University of South Dakota School of Law as two of the 128 brilliant up-and-coming legal minds in Indian law.

At the tournament, prestigious Indian law attorneys, judges, and professors from around the nation volunteered to critique participants’ briefs and oral advocacy skills. These Moot Court participants traveled from every corner of the nation to compete.

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Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Barry Vickery (left) and Moreau FourBear (right)

The Moot Court problem related to the Indian Reorganization Act and involved how the Secretary of the Interior inappropriately applied the act in placing Indian lands into trust. Moreau FourBear noted that the issue was multifaceted as it had administrative law aspects in tandem to the overarching Indian law issues. “We had to argue whether the Secretary had proper authority to place land in trust and whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious.”

The USD team received high marks for their off-brief, and notable comments from judges on their professionalism and mastery of the caselaw. Although they did not make it into the final rounds, Jessica FourBear said that, “We utilized every skill in advocacy taught by professors at USD–like Professors Horton, Hutton, Pommersheim, Hess, and McKey–and the judges were impressed. Unfortunately, our brief score was a bit lower than we needed to break the top 16.”

In order to prepare, the USD team spent a substantial amount of time researching their Moot Court problem and practicing their oral advocacy with USD professors. Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Barry Vickery acted as the team’s coach and provided guidance to the team. However, as Vickery was in California, the team had to give practice oral arguments to Vickery over Skype. Professors of Law Hutton and Pommersheim also helped provide assistance by critiquing the team’s oral arguments in the formal courtroom setting.

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Moreau FourBear (2L), Jessica FourBear (3L), Dean & Professor of Law Emeritus Vickery (far right)

Both Jessica and Moreau believed that the preparation and tournament itself was an almost overwhelming amount of work, but was worthwhile to receive high praise from their judges and compete against the best in the nation.

If any students are interested in attending the 26th NNALSA Moot Court Competition, please join the local USD NALSA group or speak with Jessica or Moreau FourBear for more information.



Law Students Bring Home 3rd Place Win in Regional Transactional Law

Four USD School of Law students participated in LawMeet National Transactional Tournaments on February 24th. USD Law sent two teams to compete in different Regional Tournaments.

Team 1: Branden Nethken (2L) and Ryan Redd (3L) competed in Dallas, Texas (Region 6 Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law).

And team 2: Anna Limoges (3L) and Britni Summers (2L) competed in Denver, Colorado (Region 7 University of Denver Sturm College of Law website).


Anna Limoges (left) Britni Summers (right)

Participants were judged by panels of experts from transactional law practices from across the nation. Decisions were reached on how each team most adeptly negotiated a draft of certain provisions of an agreement. These negotiations required students to combine numerous lawyering skills like drafting, marking-up, various negotiating techniques, in-depth knowledge of corporate law and other facets of business law to develop innovative solutions to a legal problem.

Anna Limoge and Brittni Summers took home third place in Region 7.

The National Transactional LawMeet is the premier “moot court” experience for students interested in a transactional practice. The National Transactional LawMeet is a part of the LawMeet family of live, interactive, educational competitions designed to give law students a hands-on experience in developing and honing transactional lawyering skills.

Morgan Nelson (2L) Receives National ABA Student Award

Five outstanding individuals were recently recognized by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association for hard work, dedication, passion and enthusiasm displayed on the Law Student Division board. The awards given were the


Morgan Nelson, Silver Key Award Recipient

Star of the Division awards, the Silver Key award and the Gold Key award. These highly sought awards were bestowed upon individual’s who have dedicated a year of service towards the betterment of the ABA and the law profession as a whole.

The USD School of Law is pleased to announce and congratulate Morgan Nelson (2L) in receiving the Silver Key Award for her high degree of service, dedication, and leadership to the Law Student Division of the ABA. 

Nelson completed her term as 8th Circuit Governor this past semester, and was recently appointed to Chairwoman of the Caucus Governance Committee. Of her many accomplishments as Governor, her favorite was the passing of the governance restructuring, of which she was active in lobbying other members to pass the act at the National Assembly.

USD Hosts Regional Client Counseling Tournament

The University of South Dakota School of Law was chosen as a host school for an ABA regional Client Counseling Tournament for neighboring law schools. During the tournament, competitors conduct an initial interview with a person playing the role of the client and then address both the client’s legal and non-legal needs. These participants are judged on various aspects of client counseling: building attorney-client relationship, building rapport, determining client goals, and considering applicable law and options that may be available to the client.

Competing at the USD School of Law American Bar Association Regional ADR Tournament include:

  • Drake University Law School

  • University of Nebraska College of Law

  • Washburn University School of Law

Regional volunteer judges with past ADR experience will advance only one team to Nationals. Each team is provided with a consultation memorandum that includes information that a secretary would likely receive from a client in preparation for a meeting. The teams then have 45 minutes to conduct their interview.

The winning team will advance to the National Client Counseling Competition to be held on March 17th in Norman, Oklahoma, at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Dean’s List: Fall 2016

Congratulations to the following students for making the Dean’s List for the Fall 2016 semester:

Third Year Law Students

Bloom, Elliot J.
Brost, Ashley R.
Cockburn, Maggie K
Erickson, Joseph B.
Haberstick, Carl F.
Redd, Ryan W.
Schulte, Mallory K.

Second Year Law Students

Bangasser, Jordyn
Hodson, Laura E.
Hoffman, Brigid C.
Luther, Kay E.
Maxwell, Kelly M.
Michlitsch, Jennifer M.
Nethken, Branden R.

The Dean’s List is issued each semester. This list is composed of those law students, other than first semester, first year law students, who are registered for twelve or more law school hours, ten of which will be given a numerical grade, and either 1) have for that semester achieved a grade point average of 85.00 or better; or 2) are in the top ten percent of their class for that semester, whichever group is smaller.  The list is not based on cumulative grade point average; it is based on semester grade point average.

Criminal Justice Career and Graduate Fair

Please join Criminal Justice Studies at the third annual Criminal Justice Career and Graduate Fair. This fair is open to all students and is featuring over 30 organizations including the FBI, DEA, Minneapolis Police Department, Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office, SD Department of Social Services, South Dakota State’s Attorneys, and many more. These agencies and schools are excited to hire and recruit USD students.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 11:00 AM1:00 PM

Muenster University Center, Grand Ballroom 225

J.D. Joint Degree Information Session

Wednesday, February 1st – 12 pm – School of Law, Room 102

Representatives from the Beacom School of Business will be available to answer questions from students interested in the joint JD/Master of Business Administration)and JD/Master of Professional Accountancy programs. USD School of Law offers nine joint degree programs but offer only two through the business school. The Beacom School of Business at the University of South Dakota has earned a No. 12 ranking on The Princeton Review’s new list of the top 25 online MBA programs for 2017.

The joint degree program at the School of Law requires approval from the School of Law administration, 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 J.D. and master’s degrees in three years. Students may receive up to nine credit hours toward the 90 credit hours required for the J.D. 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.

The Master of Business Administration program is designed to meet the needs of modern businesses for broadly educated management personnel who possess a generalized point of view, adaptability to changing environments and a high degree of analytical skill.

The Master of Professional Accountancy degree is designed to provide specialized training in accounting and related fields for those who wish to prepare for a career in public accounting, industry, government service or accounting education.

More information regarding the event: mba-mpa-joint-deree-session-february-2017

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.


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.