Feb 27, 2024  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Law (J.D.)

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University of South Dakota School of Law
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069-2390
Phone: 605-677-5443

90 Credit Hours Required


Juris Doctor

Program Description

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. Students at the Law School are a highly selective group that has demonstrated intellectual aptitude and personal characteristics desirable in the legal profession, including a desire to serve others.

Students at the Law School are a highly selective group that has demonstrated intellectual aptitude and personal characteristics desirable in the legal profession, including a desire to serve others.

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 system.

Students also have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of co-curricular and extracurricular 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 Moot Court Board, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Board, and Trial Advocacy Competition.


Roger M. Baron, Professor, J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia. Member, South Dakota, Missouri, and Texas Bars. Courses: Civil Procedure, Family Law, Insurance.

David S. Day, Professor, J.D., University of Iowa. Member, California Bar. Courses: Advanced Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Rights, Employment Discrimination, First Amendment Rights.

Angela R. Ericson, Assistant Dean and Instructor, J.D., University of South Dakota. Member, Iowa and South Dakota Bars. Course: The Business of Law.

Patrick M. Garry, Professor, J.D., University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Ph.D., University of Minnesota. Member, Minnesota Bar. Courses: Media and Communications Law, Administrative Law, Advanced Torts, Employment Law.

Thomas Earl Geu, Interim Dean and Professor, J.D., University of Nebraska. Member, South Dakota, Nebraska, and District of Columbia Bars. Courses: Business Organizations, Federal Securities Regulation, Legislation, nonprofit organizations.

Randall J. Gingiss, Professor, J.D., University of Michigan; LL.M., DePaul University; M.B.A., University of Chicago; CPA, Illinois. Member, South Dakota and Illinois Bars. Courses: Estate and Gift Tax, Estate Planning, Property, Trusts and Wills.

Wendy Hess, Visiting Professor, J.D., University of Denver. Courses: Legal Writing and Fundamental Skills.

Thomas J. Horton, Assistant Professor, J.D., Case Western University, M.A.L.S., Georgetown University. Member, District of Columbia, Ohio Bars. Courses: Trial Techniques, Honors Seminar (when offered).

Mary Christine Hutton, Professor, J.D., Washburn University; LL.M., Harvard University. Member, South Dakota and Kansas Bars. Courses: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Evidence.

Darla Jackson, Director, J.D., University of Oklahoma. McKusick Law Library.

Sean Kammer, Assistant Professor, J.D., Duke University. Courses: Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Energy Law.

Allen Madison, Assistant Professor, J.D., Hofstra University. Courses: Federal Income Tax, Business Organizations.

Michael J. Myers, Associate Professor of Law. J.D., University of South Dakota. Member, South Dakota and Iowa Bars. Courses: Elder Law, Health Care Law & Policy.

Jo M. Pasqualucci, Professor, J.D., University of Wisconsin; S.J.D., George Washington University. Member, South Dakota and Wisconsin Bars. Courses: Commercial Law, International Human Rights Law, Public International Law, Secured Transactions.

Frank R. Pommersheim, Professor, J.D., Columbia University; M.P.A., Harvard University. Member, South Dakota and Oregon Bars. Courses: Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, Indian Law, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tribal Courts and Tribal Law. Serves on six tribal courts across the U.S.

Thomas L. Sorensen, Associate Dean, Director of Externships, J.D., University of South Dakota. Member, South Dakota and Nebraska Bars. Course: Externship Education Program.

Charles M. Thatcher, Professor, J.D., Ohio Northern University. Member, South Dakota and Ohio Bars. Courses: Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Remedies.

Jonathan K. Van Patten, Professor, J.D., University of California at Los Angeles. Member, South Dakota and California Bars. Courses: Advanced Torts, Debtors’ and Creditors’ Rights, Negotiation and Settlement, Torts, Deposition Practice.

Barry R. Vickrey, Professor, J.D., Vanderbilt University. Member, South Dakota and Tennessee Bars. Course: Legal Profession, Mediation, South Dakota Drafting and Legal Practice, Property Law.


For degree-seeking students, items required to complete the application process include:

  • A completed application. A completed application form supplied by the School of Law or through www.LSAC.org must be submitted with a non–refundable application fee of $35.
  • An CAS Law School Report. The applicant must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and have each college send official transcripts to the CAS (of the Law School Admission Council, or LSC), which will analyze the transcripts and send the analysis and LSAT score to any schools to which the applicant has applied.
  • Two letters of recommendation. The applicant must submit two letters of recommendation from instructors, employers, or supervisors. Applicants who have received their undergraduate or graduate degree within the preceding three years must include an academic letter of reference.
  • A personal statement. The personal statement should detail evidence of qualities beyond academic abilities, such as leadership ability, service to others, maturity, organizational skills, familiarity with other languages and cultures, a history of overcoming disadvantage, extraordinary accomplishment, or success in a previous career. The statement should also explain what contributions the applicant may bring to the University of South Dakota School of Law and the legal profession.

    For complete admissions information, please see the Admissions Guidebook found on the School of Law website at http://www.usd.edu/law.

Joint Degree Program Description

The School of Law offers a joint degree program with other colleges/schools of the University of South Dakota leading to the juris doctor degree and a master’s degree in one of the following nine disciplines:

  • College of Arts and Sciences
JD/Master of Arts in English
JD/Master of Arts in History
JD/Master of Arts in Political Science
JD/Master of Arts in Psychology
JD/Master of Public Administration
JD/Master of Science in Administration
  • School of Business
JD/Master of Business Administration
JD/Master of Professional Accountancy
  • School of Education
JD/Master of Arts in Education Administration

Dual Degree Program in Environmental Law

Vermont Law School and the University of South Dakota School of Law offer a dual-degree program that enables qualified students to earn two degrees in three years: a J.D. from South Dakota and a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School (JD/MELP). The dual-degree program is composed of courses taught at Vermont Law School’s Summer Session and courses offered by distance learning from Vermont Law School during the regular academic year, or a combination of Summer Session, distance learning courses, and internships. 

Flex-Time Option

This option will permit certain well-qualified students to take less than the normal load of credits each semester and to graduate with a juris doctor degree within five years instead of three years. Flex-time students follow the same class schedule as all other students, but take fewer hours each semester. The program’s flexibility is designed to admit a limited number of well-qualified students who could not otherwise attend law school on a full-time basis. The Law School does not offer evening or weekend courses.

Accelerated Admission

An applicant may apply, become admitted to, and enroll in the Law School without completion of the requirements for the applicant’s undergraduate degree. To be considered for accelerated admission, the applicant must have completed, prior to enrollment in the Law School, at least three-fourths of the required course work for the undergraduate degree. Additionally, the applicant must submit a plan that shows precisely how the applicant intends to complete the requirements for the undergraduate degree prior to graduation from Law School. 

Graduate Student Enrollment in Law Courses

USD degree-seeking graduate students who are not enrolled in the Law School may be allowed to take certain Law School courses for credit on a case-by-case basis, subject to approval by the professor teaching the course. Graduate students interested in doing so should consult the two-year course schedule (found in the Curriculum Guidebook on the Law School website at http://www.usd.edu/law) to see what courses are being taught in the current two-year rotation. They should then contact the Office of the Dean to indicate their desire to take Law School courses. The Dean’s Office will contact the course professors and notify the students that enrollment has been approved or disapproved. Notifications will include any conditions on enrollment. 

Conditions on enrollment are determined by each individual professor and may include, but are not limited to, the following matters:

  • Waiver of prerequisites, if required for law students
  • Adjustment of course requirements
  • Final examination requirements
  • Evaluation of course performance on a separate scale from law students

Students should be aware that the Law School curriculum is rigorous and course content will not, on the whole, be adjusted to accommodate non–law students. First-year law classes (700 series) and other required, upper-level courses are not open to attendance by non-law students. In no case will a course be open to non-law students if sufficient space in the class is not available. Students who have not completed their bachelor’s degree will not be considered. 

Graduation Requirements

First-Year Required Courses: Total 31 credit hours

The first-year curriculum is designed to give students a broad understanding of the American legal system and the role of law in our society. These required first-year courses expose students to the fundamental principles of needed legal skills, including legal analysis.

  • Civil Procedure I & II, 6 credit hours
  • Contracts I & II, 5 credit hours
  • Criminal Law, 3 credit hours
  • Criminal Procedure, 3 credit hours
  • Property I & II, 4 credit hours
  • Fundamental Legal Skills I & II, 5 credit hours
  • Torts I & II, 5 credit hours

Second-Year and Third-Year Studies

The required, upper-division courses include Evidence, Legal Profession, Constitutional Law, and a code course, complete the core curriculum, and are taken during the second year of study. In addition, upper-division students take other, elective courses. The upper-division curriculum offers opportunities to develop and refine practice skills and to apply accumulated legal learning by resolving practical problems. Third-year students may enroll in the Extern Education Program during the summer before they begin third year courses to acquire practical experience in a law firm, governmental agency, or other law office. An upper-level writing requirement must also be completed in order to qualify for graduation, which requires a total of 90 credit hours.

Upper-Division Required Courses: 13–14 credit hours, plus one code course and one skills course


  • Constitutional Law, 4 credit hours
  • Evidence, 3 credit hours
  • Legal Profession, 3 credit hours

Code Course Options:

  • Commercial Law*, 4 credit hours
  • Federal Income Tax*, 4 credit hours
  • Secured Transactions*, 3 credit hours

    * At least one of the three code courses is required

Skills Course Options:

  • Mediation*, 3 credit hours
  • Trial Techniques*, 3 credit hours
  • SD Drafting and Legal Practice*, 3 credit hours
  • Negotiation and Settlement*, 3 credit hours
  • Legislation*, 3 credit hours

*At least one of these skills courses is required


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