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Sioux Falls law firm establishes Johnson Heidepriem Abdallah Trial Advocacy Fellowship at the USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Sioux Falls, S.D. law firm Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP, has pledged $125,000 to create the Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah Trial Advocacy Fellowship, which will provide salary support in the area of trial advocacy at the University of South Dakota School of Law.

“For us, this was a harmonic convergence,” stated Steven M. Johnson (USD School of Law, ’76) of Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP. “It's an opportunity to give something back to the school we love, where most of us first learned to love the law, while at the same time promote excellence in trial and appellate advocacy, which is the primary focus of our firm.”

The first recipient of the Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah Trial Advocacy Fellowship is Thomas J. Horton, who joined the USD Law School faculty in 2009. Prior to joining South Dakota’s Law School faculty, Horton spent 28 years litigating and trying antitrust and complex civil cases in federal courts throughout the United States. His career includes governmental stints with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, and private practice as a partner with several major international law firms in the District of Columbia, including Howrey & Simon, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. Horton received a J.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University, a M.A.L.S. (American Studies) from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in biological sciences from Harvard University.

“I am honored and thrilled to receive the Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah Trial Advocacy Fellowship,” Horton said. “This generous and substantial gift will enable us to continue increasing trial advocacy opportunities for USD’s students, and to continue building our reputation as a strong national trial advocacy program.”

Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP, a leading litigation firm in the region, established the fellowship as a commitment to assure that the USD School of Law continues to offer high quality teachers and scholars, and to support trial technique courses and competitive national trial teams.

According to Tom Geu, interim dean of the School of Law, the Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah Trial Advocacy Fellowship is significant because it is the first named fellow program or long-term commitment by a firm or individual to support faculty salaries at the Law School.

“The gift indicates confidence in the Law School, legal education, and lawyers in South Dakota,” added Geu, who noted that the Law School is grateful to Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah for its generous gift and for its role in educating USD School of Law students. “Additionally, the Law School thanks the firm for the time many of its lawyers donate to help educate and train law students and new lawyers at the Law School and in Sioux Falls.”

Download a photograph of Horton.

Download a photo of (from left) Scott A. Abdallah, Scott N. Heidepriem, Dean Tom E. Geu and Steven M. Johnson.

For more information about Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP, please visit the firm’s website at More information about the USD School of Law is also available on the web at


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 202 undergraduate and 78 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News