Law School Task Force Recommends Hybrid Plan, Additional Funding

VERMILLION, S.D. – The Law School Task Force voted Friday to recommend to President James W. Abbott a hybrid plan to establish new programming options online and in Sioux Falls while keeping the existing School of Law on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion.

The task force also voted unanimously to recommend an increase in funding of at least $600,000 a year for programming at the law school.

The task force based its evaluation on the testimony it received in two previous meetings from students, faculty, law school staff, alumni, community members, lawyers from around the state and outside experts and consultants.

USD President James W. Abbott appointed the task force earlier this year to consider whether relocating the state’s only law school to Sioux Falls would be in the best interest of the students, the university, and the state of South Dakota.

Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, chaired the task force.

The task force voted to recommend seeking private funding for scholarships and to recommend offering in-state tuition rates to select out-of-state candidates. The task force concluded with recommending the establishment of an ongoing advisory council to continue to consider ways to improve the law school.

The USD School of Law remains a best value law school and was recently ranked third in least indebted graduates. The school educates most of the state’s lawyers and judges, filling spots in private law firms and in public legal practice.

View the task force meeting.


USD’s School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News