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USD Law Graduates 79

Law Graduation Class of 2018. The University of South Dakota School of Law graduated 79 students this May.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota School of Law graduated 79 students this May.

Retired First Assistant Federal Public Defender for the District of Nebraska and 1980 law graduate, Shannon O’Connor, was the hooding ceremony speaker. O’Connor, who has tried numerous cases in federal court including one before the U.S. Supreme Court, also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from USD.

Students honored were as follows:

Edward Hope Award: given to the student who has attained the highest academic standing in the graduating class: Kelly Maxwell, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Gavel Award: given to the graduate deemed “outstanding student” by the faculty: Britni Summers, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Mickelson Award: given to a student who has demonstrated excellence both inside and outside the classroom: Branden Nethken, Falcon, Colorado.

ALI-CLE Award: provided by the American Law Institute; given to the student who has been determined to best represent a combination of scholarship and leadership: Alayna Holmstrom, Rapid City, South Dakota.

Dean’s Leadership Award: given to the individual who exemplifies the ideals of service and leadership of the USD School of Law: Morgan Nelson, Norfolk, Nebraska.

Jackson Memorial Award for Outstanding Professor of Law: Associate Professor Tom Simmons.

The School of Law also recognized 15 students with the Access to Justice Pro Bono Award for completing more than 50 hours of pro bono legal services.


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