Knudson School of Law Celebrates Class of 2023
The ceremony featured remarks by Knudson School of Law Dean Neil Fulton and Leroy “J.R.” LaPlante, director of Tribal Relations for Avera Health and 2009 graduate of the USD law school.
Of the 59 graduates, three graduated Summa Cum Laude; three graduated Magna Cum Laude; two graduated Cum Laude; three were part of the concurrent degree program through which they earned their master’s degree at the same time as their J.D.; and nine were part of the Tripp Fellows Program inaugural class.
Many of the law graduates will enter the workforce directly after graduation. Others have jobs reserved upon their passage of the South Dakota bar exam; 29% are entering clerkships.
The following includes a few examples of USD Knudson School of Law graduates’ post-graduation plans.
Erin Ballard, from Land o’ Lakes, Florida, will serve as a judicial clerk with the Second Circuit Court in Sioux Falls.
As a law student, Ballard was involved in Moot Court Board, WORKS Divorce Clinic, FCLA, Wellness Advocacy Project, First Generation Law Society and Women in Philanthropy. She served as the South Dakota Trial Lawyers student liaison and chair of USD Student Media Advisory Board.
“I am leaving USD law as the most confident and self-assured version of myself,” Ballard said. “Not only have I discovered a passion for criminal law, but—just as importantly—I have found out what I don’t want to do. USD has provided opportunity after opportunity to try new things and put myself into unknown and uncomfortable situations—those that I believe will make me a better and stronger advocate in the real world.”
Jaquilyn Waddell Boie, from Westfield, Iowa, will serve as an associate attorney at Heidman Law in Sioux City, Iowa, where she previously spent two summers as a summer associate. Waddell Boie graduates as a Tripp Fellow.
While at the Knudson School of Law, Waddell Boie was involved in the South Dakota Law Review, RD Hurd Pro Bono Society, and the Academic Affairs and Curriculum Committee. She also served as extern to the Supreme Court of South Dakota, the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General and the USD Office of the Provost. She was also the champion of the 2021 Sam Masten Tournament.
“While I have made many incredible memories at the USD Knudson School of Law, by far my most memorable was competing in the final round of the 2021 Sam Masten Tournament before the distinguished justices of the Supreme Court of South Dakota,” Waddell Boie said. “The justices imparted such wisdom, encouragement and guidance for continuing to develop as a legal advocate.
“The Knudson School of Law has provided an exceptional educational experience,” she continued. “I enter my position as an associate attorney at Heidman Law not only with a strong educational foundation in the law but also with an amazing network of lawyers and legal scholars. These years have been formative not only for my professional identity but also for my personal identity and family. I am truly grateful for all that the amazing leaders, scholars, and staff invest in the students at the USD Knudson School of Law.”
Connor McCormick, from Rapid City, South Dakota, will serve as a clerk for South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Jensen. This comes after he completed a judicial externship with Chief Justice Jensen last summer.
Following the clerkship, McCormick will join Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith P.C. as an associate attorney in Sioux Falls.
As a law student, he served as the president of the Moot Court Board and worked as a Bar & Academic Success graduate assistant and an admissions ambassador.
“The professional and personal lessons that I have learned during law school have had a great impact on my professional identity and future career goals,” McCormick said. “The school’s various extra-curricular activities gave me the opportunity to receive a high-quality education and allowed me to figure out what I wanted to do after graduation.”
Gabrielle Unruh, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will serve as clerk for South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Mark E. Salter. She previously served as a judicial extern to Justice Salter last summer. Unruh graduates as a Tripp Fellow.
Following the clerkship, Unruh will join Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith as an associate attorney. She interned with Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith during summer 2021 and 2022.
While at the Knudson School of law, she was involved in Women in Philanthropy and Delta Theta Phi and served as a student ambassador, editor-in-chief of the South Dakota Law Review, and research assistant for Professors Tom Horton and Patrick Garry.
“I learned so much about the law, writing and the court through my externship,” said Unruh. “It was also very rewarding to work on something that later was later turned into a court opinion. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Justice Salter again during my clerkship.”
Collin Fischer, from Eureka, South Dakota, serve as an associate attorney at the Bantz, Gosch, & Cramer law firm located in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Fischer was connected to this opportunity through the law school’s Career Services.
During his time in law school, Fischer was involved in the Trial Team and participated in the Tribal Wills Practicum.
“This involved traveling to the Rosebud Reservation, meeting with clients and drafting their estate planning documents,” Fischer said. "It was very rewarding to apply legal knowledge to help solve a client's problem.
“From day one, the faculty at the USD law school stressed the importance of achieving proficiency in both legal knowledge and practical application of that knowledge,” Fischer continued. “Along with proficiency, they imparted the need to remain ethical and to aspire to the ideals that accompany the title of attorney. This has left me with a well-developed professional identity and sense of respect for the position I will assume after law school.”
Chelsea Schlauger, from Rapid City, South Dakota, will work in trusts and estates as an associate attorney at Redstone Law Firm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
As a law student, she was the vice president of the Alternative Dispute Resolution, co-founder of the Wellness Advocacy Project and a board member of Delta Theta Phi. She and her partner advanced to the final round of the 1L negotiation competition in her first year.
“I am so thankful for the excellent mentorship I have had at USD,” said Schlauger. “The late Professor Horton instilled in us the importance of establishing a professional and ethical reputation. I will incorporate his insight as a guiding principle of my law practice.”
Lauren London, from Naples, Florida, will serve as a judicial law clerk for the Fifth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
During her time in law school, London was active in the South Dakota Law Review, Women in Law, and the First-Generation Mentorship Program. She transferred to USD Knudson School of Law as a second-year student.
“Admittedly, I was nervous about entering a new law school environment where I knew no one,” London said. “However, USD far surpassed my expectations immediately. I was welcomed with warm arms by faculty, staff and students alike. USD is a tight-knit community, and I was fortunate enough to be included in it the moment I stepped on campus. My experiences in academics, extracurriculars and social gatherings at USD have shaped me into a well-rounded person who is passionate about excellence, service and leadership. I am confident that USD has prepared me not only to be an exceptional attorney but also an exceptional human being.”
Ryland Solem, from Huron, South Dakota, has accepted a position at the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office as a deputy state’s attorney in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was chosen for this position through the On-Campus Interviews conducted at the law school twice per semester.
During his time at the law school, Solem was active in Trial Team, Environmental Law Society and Women in Law.
“My experiences at the law school have shaped me to be a more open-minded person as I go into the workforce,” said Solem. “The people at our law school make it special. We have students and professors from all walks of life, and I was blessed with the opportunity to learn from all of them.”
Victoria Luke, of Elk River, Minnesota, will begin work as in-house counsel and vice president of exchanges for Homestead Escrow & Exchange Company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She graduated with her J.D. and MBA from the Beacom School of Business.
During her time in law school, she was active as a member of the Law Library Student Advisory Board and Christian Legal Society and a graduate administrative assistant for the dean's suite at the Beacom School of Business.
“Being in the joint MBA/J.D. program has helped open a wide array of career opportunities for me, and I am so excited to see where these degrees take me,” said Luke. “My graduate assistant position along with my internships over the summer have allowed me to expand my professional network and to make connections with people all over the Midwest, all while growing as a professional in the business law field.”
Turner Blasius, of Kimball, South Dakota, will clerk for United States District Court for the District of South Dakota Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno in Pierre.
During his time in law school, Blasius was active in the Moot Court Board and Delta Theta Phi. His favorite memory of his time in law school was going to a Moot Court Competition in Las Vegas, where they placed second out of 28 teams.
“It was a blast spending time with my family, colleagues, and Professor Kammer,” Blasius said.
“USD Law has given me countless friends and mentors that have helped me gain my confidence in my legal analysis and writing,” Blasius continued. “The support system at USD Law is unlike any other where the faculty from the top down wants each student to individually succeed and reach their own goals.”
Mia Hockel, of Windom, Minnesota, will work at Costella, Porter, Hill, Heisterkamp, Bushnell & Carpenter, LLP in Rapid City. She was connected and chosen for this position through the on-campus interviews conducted in the law school twice per semester.
As a law student, Hockel was active in Women in Philanthropy and the Veteran Legal Education Group and served as the vice president for Women in Law, vice president for Trial Team, secretary for the Public Interest Network, and as law fellow for the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment.
“My experiences at the USD law school have shaped who I will be when entering the workforce, by teaching me how to be confident in my abilities,” said Hockel. “Going into law school I was very insecure and felt like I was the only one who had no idea what I was doing, but through advice from professors and older students, I realized that everyone feels that way and that you just have to trust yourself and the hard work that you have put in thus far. Law school has also taught me that you cannot be afraid to fail because as Professor Simmons says, ‘failure is what you learn from most.’”
Ashley Lemons, of San Diego, California, will be a judicial law clerk for the First Circuit of South Dakota. She was connected to this opportunity by Teramie Hill, director of Career Services for the Knudson School of Law. Lemons graduates as a Tripp Fellow.
Lemons transferred to the Knudson School of Law as a second-year law student.
“As a transfer student, I was not sure how accepted I would be in this community. On my first day, several people from my class introduced themselves to me and asked me to sit with them in class,” Lemons said. “The kindness and ‘welcome home’ mentality will always be my favorite memory.
“My experiences at the USD law school have helped me to gain more confidence in my abilities,” Lemons continued. “The staff, students and community are uplifting, encouraging and empowering. I am leaving USD law as a better, more empowered version of myself.”
The Tripp Fellows Program is designed to recognize students who demonstrate achievement in skills beyond academics that successful lawyers need. In their time in law school, Tripp Fellows participate in extracurricular programming in the areas of career pathways; community, connection, and justice; professional identity and skills; and well-being. The Tripp Fellowship recognizes student professional and personal excellence.
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