USD trying to attract more Native Americans to law school

Posted September 16

— The University of South Dakota has joined an initiative that is trying to attract more Native Americans to law school.

The university in Vermillion is now part of the the Pipeline to Law Initiative, which encourages Native Americans to pursue a law degree, providing financial support for courses to prepare for the admission test, workshops, mentorship and outreach to elementary, middle and high schools with large Native American enrollment, The Argus Leader ( ) reported. At least three other law schools participate in the program.

"This gives a resource and gives mentorship to people considering law school or those who never considered that as an option because they didn't have a role model," said Nicholas McInerney, the law school's director of admissions. The newspaper reported Native Americans make up 0.3 percent of U.S. attorneys and less than one percent of the South Dakota bar membership.

Mato Standing High, the state's director of Indian education, said it is uncommon for Native Americans to graduate from college, which in turn, makes the challenge of graduating with a post-secondary even more difficult.

"It's really something that we need to take note of and acknowledge the statistical difficulty in achieving something like that," Standing High said.

People associated with the initiative will be offering a free workshop at USD this weekend.

Seth Pearman attended high school on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation, graduated from USD's School of Law in 2012 and is now the attorney for Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. He said he has talked about the legal profession to high school students at reservations across the state, sharing his story and how he's been in their shoes.

He said having a mentor when students are considering going into law school is "a benefit that can't be measured."


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