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HomeNewsUSD Law School Alumna Appointed to 5th Circuit Court

USD Law School Alumna Appointed to 5th Circuit Court

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law alumna Julie Dvorak ’00, J.D., was recently appointed by Gov. Kristi Noem to serve as a judge on South Dakota’s 5th Circuit Court.

“I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity to serve, and I look forward to a challenging and rewarding career on the bench,” said Dvorak. “I have a history of wanting to make a difference in the lives of others, whether as a social worker, as a volunteer or in my practice. I hope to continue to have an impact in the lives of others as a circuit court judge.”

The 5th Circuit Court encompasses 10 South Dakota counties, including Brown, Campbell, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Marshall, McPherson, Roberts, Spink and Walworth. Originally from northeast South Dakota, Dvorak looks forward to serving the state she loves most.

“I was born and raised in South Dakota,” said Dvorak. “I love to travel, and part of that is loving to come home. I have never wanted to live anywhere else. I love the people and the wide-open spaces.”

Prior to becoming a judge, Dvorak served as an attorney for over 20 years for Siegel, Barnett & Schutz LLP, a law firm out of Aberdeen. She has also been active with the South Dakota Bar Association, serving as a bar commissioner, on the Strategic Planning Committee, on the Disciplinary Board, and as a member and chairperson of the Continuing Legal Education Committee.

“It was about 15 years into my legal career before I started thinking about the possibility of being a judge,” said Dvorak. “As an attorney in private practice, I liked analyzing legal issues and applying the law to real-life situations for my clients. As a judge, I get to do the same thing for the parties who have disputes and appear in front of the court.”

While pursuing her law degree at the USD Knudson School of Law, Dvorak was involved in the South Dakota Moot Court Competition and South Dakota Law Review. She also held two internships – one with Bormann, Buckmeier, Bauer and Todd in Mobridge and one with Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson, & Ashmore LLP in Rapid City. These experiences, as well as the network she built, propelled her into the work she does today.

“My favorite memories from law school all involve connections and relationships,” said Dvorak. “I could not have asked for a better experience in law school.”

Dvorak’s advice to current students who are interested in pursuing a judiciary career is to practice law before seeking a career as a judge.

“My personal opinion is that it is only after practicing law for a significant period of time that someone would really know whether a job as a judge is a good fit for them, and whether they are a good fit to be a judge,” said Dvorak. “In addition to demonstrating the ability to analyze the law, they would want to demonstrate a commitment to public service and to the legal profession as well.”

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