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USD Joins Pipeline to Law Initiative for Native Americans

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota School of Law has joined the Pipeline to Law Initiative aimed at helping prospective Native American law students to become lawyers, and it will host one of three national workshops toward the effort.

The deadline for the Sept. 16-17 free workshop at USD is Thursday, Sept. 1. Michigan State University College of Law hosted a workshop in August and Arizona State will host one in October. Each school provides professional support to the program, which is funded through grants and gifts to the Indian Legal Program at Arizona State.

Besides the workshops, the initiative’s activities include financial support for Law School Admission Test prep courses, a mentorship program and early outreach to elementary, middle, and high schools with high native populations. The funding provided allows the initiative to provide the workshops free of charge. Interested prospective Native American law students can learn more about it and apply online.

The 2015 National Native American Bar Association study of American Indians in the legal field, “The Pursuit of Inclusion: An In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences and Perspective of Native American Attorneys in the Legal Profession,” found that the native law student population is lower than its rate in the overall U.S. population. The study concluded that pipeline projects reaching students in earlier stages of education are essential to continuing the gains in Native American law student numbers and success. In response to the issues identified in the 2015 survey, the Indian Legal Program and the Indigenous Law Program are joining together to strengthen the Native American pipeline to law.

“As the racial and ethnic diversity of the United States continues to grow, it is increasingly important that comparable cultural diversity grows in the legal profession,” said Christopher P. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of Access Group, a nonprofit comprised of nearly 200 law schools and one of several groups funding the initiative.


USD’s Knudson 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 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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.


Hanna DeLange
USD News