"The Women in Law Society welcomed former Justice Judith Meierhenry to the law school to share her legal career and journey to the bench," said Isabelle Kremeier, a second-year law student and president of Women in Law. "Former Justice Judith Meierhenry was an inspiration to hear from and ignited a passion for justice within each attendee of the event."

Meierhenry is a three-time alumna of USD, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1966, her master’s in English in 1968 and her juris doctor in 1977. Just two years after her graduation, former Gov. Bill Janklow appointed her to serve in the State Economic Opportunity Office, and by 1980, she had become the state’s secretary of labor. She assumed the role of state secretary of education and cultural affairs in 1983.

During her visit, Meierhenry shared details about being appointed as a judge of the Second Circuit Court in 1988, mentioning that, at the time, there had only been one other female judge in the Circuit Courts of South Dakota.

Meierhenry also talked about how South Dakota was the last state to have had a woman on the Supreme Court, sharing that she was adamant that a woman be appointed. While she did not plan to become a judge, she thought, "If not me then who else?

"I feel like it's important for there to be diversity on the bench,” Meierhenry continued. "In order for the people to maintain faith in the judicial system, we have to show that we are representative of the populace."

In November 2002, Janklow appointed Meierhenry as the associate justice for the South Dakota Supreme Court, a position she held until her retirement in June 2011.

About Women in Law

Women in Law is a student organization focused on increasing awareness of issues affecting women in various areas of the law. The organization works to develop support systems for women in the law and bring together individuals who strengthen the role of women in the legal community. In addition to hosting speakers, Women in Law raises funds through their clothing order, hosts a Halloween party and organizes a feminine product drive.

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