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ABA Hosts Panel Discussion for TRIO Students at USD Law School

Photo of panelists and high school students from TRIO program. High school students from the TRIO program met with panelists to discuss law school and the legal profession.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division hosted a professional panel titled “What Do Lawyers Do?” at the University of South Dakota School of Law to discuss the legal profession in front of area high school students April 11.

Tamara Nash, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and panel lead, encouraged students to ask tough questions to the 6 other panelists.

“There are only a couple of requirements. That you have fun, that you learn something new and that you stay engaged,” said Nash.

Questions ranged from how much law school costs to how the panelists overcame challenges. When asked how difficult it was to start her own law firm, Taneeza Islam, a civil rights attorney and community organizer in Sioux Falls, answered it was “actually pretty easy.“

“I found some office space, a phone line and got some furniture from a thrift store,” said Islam, the first lawyer in her family.

Billy Coby, third-year law student and president of the Black Law Student Association emphasized it was important for the students to focus on their interests in preparation for law school. “Focus on discovering who you are as a person. Listen to yourself,” said Coby.

About 30 high school students from the Briar Cliff University TRIO program in Sioux City, Iowa, attended the event designed to encourage students to consider exploring a career in the legal profession. The TRIO program is an outreach and student services program designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Panelists included:

Tamara Nash – Special Assistant - S.D. U.S. Attorney Office
Beth Overmoe – Strategic Plan Coordinator - American Bar Association
Taneeza Islam – immigration attorney and community activist
Ashlee Wendt – attorney at Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith Associates
Alison Ramsdell – Civil Rights Division - S.D. U.S. Attorney Office
Jeremy Jehangiri – Assistant - S.D. U.S. Attorney Office
Billy Coby – third-year USD law student and president of the Black Law Student Association


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