Across the nation law schools have reported up to a 40 percent drop in applicants since 2009. Some law schools have relaxed entrance standards in order to fill seats, resulting in fewer graduates passing the bar exam. Others, like USD, continue to seek quality applicants over quantity, even if it means smaller classes and a budget shortfall.

“Neither strategy is sustainable long term,” Abbott said. “It has been suggested that relocation of the law school to Sioux Falls may result in an increase in the number of qualified applicants.”

Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, has agreed to chair the Special Law School Task Force. Mickelson serves as speaker of the South Dakota State House and is a USD graduate. He earned his law degree at Harvard. Twelve additional members will be appointed to the broad-based task force.

South Dakota’s School of Law, founded in 1901, educates most of the state’s lawyers and judges, filling spots in private law firms and in public legal practice. The USD School of Law is nationally ranked as a best value law school for quality of programs and affordable cost.

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