The summer following his first year of law school, McCormick interned at Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C. in Rapid City, South Dakota. Following his second year, he interned with Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, P.C. in Sioux Falls, a position he was chosen for through on-campus interviews hosted by the law school. During both experiences, McCormick was able to explore a wide variety of legal issues, assist in legal research projects, draft motions and pleadings, attend hearings, sit in on firm meetings and more.

During his time at the law school, McCormick also held an externship with Chief Justice Jensen, a role in which he conducted legal research, drafted pre-argument memorandums and assisted in writing final opinions. It was this experience that guided McCormick directly into the work he does today.

Following his graduation last May, McCormick was selected to serve in a one-year judicial clerkship under Jensen. A typical day for McCormick consists of researching legal questions, reading through parties’ briefs, drafting pre-argument memorandums, and sending drafts of opinions or special writings back and forth with Jensen.

Upon completing his clerkship, McCormick, a Rapid City native, will return to Woods, Fuller, Schultz & Smith, P.C. as an associate attorney.

We asked the law school alumnus about his time at the Knudson School of Law, why he chose to practice law in South Dakota and more, and this is what he had to say.

Why did you choose the USD Knudson School of Law?

I chose USD for a variety of reasons. I knew that I eventually wanted to practice law in South Dakota and knew that going to the state’s only law school would provide me a great opportunity to network with the South Dakota Bar. I also chose USD because of its size. I was excited to be part of a smaller community because I knew it would allow me to make personal connections with professors and classmates rather than getting lost in a large class of students.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at the law school?

My favorite memory from law school is participating in Moot Court. The Moot Court board provided so many positive memories that it’s impossible to limit it to just one memory. To name a few, during the school’s annual Sam Masten competition, I was lucky enough to argue in the final round in front of the South Dakota Supreme Court.  Another highlight was traveling to Newark my third year to compete with my classmates Sydney Boots and Zach Schmidt. The board’s annual writing retreats were also always a highlight every year.

Are there any professors during your time at USD who were particularly impactful?

Professor Mike McKey was the professor that had the greatest impact on my law school experience. I first had him as a professor during my first-year legal writing class. His high-energy personality made every class engaging and meaningful. He was always available to provide support to any student. I eventually was given the opportunity to work for Professor McKey as a Bar and academic success graduate assistant. In that role, I was able to experience how deeply he cared about every student’s personal and professional success.

Why South Dakota? What makes here so special?

South Dakota is special to me because it's where I grew up. Despite its size, the state has limitless professional opportunities. It’s also a place where you have the chance to make an immediate impact in your local community that otherwise isn’t possible in other states. The variety of recreational activities that are available across the state also make it a great place to live and grow a family.

How does your work contribute to the state?

My clerkship allows me to play a small role in shaping our state’s legal landscape.  Being able to work for the state’s highest court means that anything I am able to work on has an immediate and direct impact on our state’s legal system. I also believe that the professional lessons I am learning from Chief Justice Jensen will allow me to be a positive advocate for the state as my career progresses.

How do you stay connected to the USD Knudson School of Law?

I have several friends that are still students at the law school which gives me a great excuse to come down to Vermillion and visit. In addition to this, I currently am on the law school’s admission committee. This role has allowed me to give back to the law school community while also providing me the chance to contribute to South Dakota’s future legal professionals.

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