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Strike Two: Second Pick for LRC Code Counsel Declines Pierre Post

The Legislature needs a lawyer. According to Legislative Executive Board chairman Senator Lee Schoenbeck, the E-Board’s second pick for the job of Legislative Research Council code counsel, Michael Loesevitz, would rather stay in Grand Forks than move back to Pierre:

The board chose Aaron Scheibe of Pierre on May 16. But Scheibe, a former chief of staff for Governor Kristi Noem, turned down the job the next day, according to [Schoenbeck. The board met again on May 18 and chose Michael Loesevitz, a former LRC attorney, and agreed to offer a $115,000 salary.

But Loesevitz later decided against moving back to Pierre, according to Schoenbeck. The LRC has now re-opened the search process.

Schoenbeck said word of the continuing vacancy has been spread to the courts and was made known to the general legal community during the South Dakota State Bar Association convention earlier this month [Bob Mercer, “Search Re-Opens to Fill S.D. Code Counsel Vacancy,” KELO-TV, 2022.06.28].

Golly, didn’t you guys tell Loesevitz that, unlike North Dakota, South Dakota has no income tax? But, oh, yeah—Loesevitz is a senior tax manager at Brady Martz; he probably already knows about the relative tax advantages of life in each Dakota.

No code counsel, no Attorney General—jeepers! Maybe Lee Schoenbeck ought to resign from the Senate and take one of those jobs.


  1. Mary Fitzgerald 2022-06-28 12:02

    With the one-of-a-kind bar exam in South Dakota we now have a shortage of lawyers. South Dakota is the only state in the nation that uses this type of bar exam. The latest bar passage rate was 33% meaning 67% failed. Their intended restraint of trade has gone too far and worked better than they ever imagined.
    I receive calls and emails from bar exam victims all the time requesting my help. I’m doing my best to help and I won’t stop. I’ve heard way too many heartbreaking stories to quit.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-28 12:11

    Rep. Fitzgerald, for Code Counsel, do we want a newbie who can’t pass the bar, or do we want to recruit an experienced lawyer? Would an experienced lawyer from another state still have to take our bar exam to take the code counsel job?

  3. Mary Fitzgerald 2022-06-28 12:13

    LRC has to be a licensed attorney.

  4. Nick Nemec 2022-06-28 12:29

    Is this a reflection on the work environment at the Legislative Research Council?

  5. Mary Fitzgerald 2022-06-28 13:10

    There is a shortage of lawyers all over the state. Public defenders, states attorneys can’t find people to hire.

  6. larry kurtz 2022-06-28 13:20

    Lawyers are fleeing South Dakota? What a shocker.

  7. Anne 2022-06-28 14:20

    The brain drain includes the legal profession. South Dakota is not a place where intellectual professionals want to work.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-28 17:02

    Nick, I suspect the work environment is a greater barrier to recruiting and retaining good LRC staff (and lawyers across the state) than the bar exam.

  9. Mary Fitzgerald 2022-06-28 18:15

    Cory I disagree. The bar exam was changed in 2015 and the average passage rate has been shockingly low. Grab a pencil and start thinking about this and what I am saying. The law school is not producing enough lawyers to fill the need. I received a text a few days ago from a lawyer that is 68 years old. He would like to retire but there are no lawyers to take over his practice. If so few are passing the bar exam it is going to limit the amount of lawyers. I think Vargo said he has six positions he cannot fill, and the public defenders office is short too. Lawrence County advertised and finally filled a position that had been impossible to fill. I get a little frustrated when I try to inform people and they just don’t get it. Not enough young lawyers to replace the old ones retiring. Thanks for listening but honestly the LRC would be a sweet place to start a career.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-06-28 18:28

    Your right Cory, nobody in South Dakota would fail the bar exam.

  11. Nick Nemec 2022-06-28 20:03

    Mary, I’m not well tuned in concerning the bar exam, what was the failure rate before 2015? Why was the exam changed? Is the exam written by the SD Bar Association?

  12. grudznick 2022-06-28 20:50

    Maybe the simplest explanation is the best.
    The problem lies with the boss(es).
    This is well known, why cannot you fellows see this? Why can the legislatures not see it in theirownselfs and in their hired director fellow?

    The simplest explanation is the Razor of the Occomites, or some such saying.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2022-06-28 22:15

    Well…I know about a hundred attorneys and I’ve heard talk about the bar exam…consensus seems to be an increase of dolts coming of law school who haven’t learned the basics of lawyering and who cannot generalize globally information from one source to another. They also lack a deep background in legal procedures.

  14. Ryan 2022-06-29 08:42

    Very few people want to live and work in pierre, that is my take. Let this office be in Sioux Falls or Rapid and the job would be filled this week. Sure plenty of people want to live in the boonies, but most of them aren’t the post-secondary type. Not a judgment, just an observation.

  15. Mary Fitzgerald 2022-06-29 08:54

    Arlo: your comment is a perfect example. The bar exam changed was changed in 2015. It’s a non-compensatory exam now. Not ONE question about South Dakota law. At one time lawyers in South Dakota submitted questions for the exam. Now it’s outsourced to a company out of state. Again when I explain to current lawyers what has happened they join my team. I know of about 50 bar exam victims that would love to work in Pierre. We can’t even get people to work im Deadwood and it’s a beautiful place. There is a shortage of lawyers. When 33% pass the exam you know the law school is no longer providing the state with lawyers. Some counties do not even have lawyers.

  16. Ryan 2022-06-29 09:06

    mary – the last bar exam in south dakota had a pass rate of 81% for first-time test takers and an overall pass rate of 55% for all testers. Last year it was 70-something percent pass rate. That’s about what it should be, in my opinion. You are either misinformed, or are misinforming.

  17. jkl 2022-06-29 13:41

    The National Conference of Bar Examiners provides numbers for SD from Feb 2022: 81% of first timers pass and an overall pass rate of 55%.

    Bob Mercer has an interesting story here from 2020. Sounds like USD needs to find smarter students and may have found them based on the Feb 2022 rates.

    I cannot find anywhere this 33% that Ms Fitzgerald cites. Perhaps she could provide here source.

  18. SuFuMatt 2022-06-29 15:09

    I do not support eliminating or simplifying the bar exam. What I think would be of great benefit would be to have a position in the legal field akin to a physician’s assistant, a way to allow paralegals to do more as long as it was under the supervision of an attorney. Allow them to appear in court for motions practice, even if not actual trials. It would create more jobs and make legal advice more affordable.

  19. Nick Nemec 2022-06-30 05:25

    grudznick, in my time in Pierre over the last two years watching all manner of imeachment proceedings I’ve come to the same conclusion. There might be a shortage of lawyers in the state but the code counsel is not a straight out of law school position, work conditions are critical for any job offered and when a position goes unfilled honest analysis by the employer is critical.

  20. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-06-30 19:56

    I know exactly six lawyers in Hot Springs, and there are undoubtedly more. I’ve no idea if this is too many lawyers or not enough for an entity that declares itself a “city” rather than a “town.”
    Hot Springs has two listed plumbers, none of whom will call you back. For any reason.
    The lawyers welcome you into crumbling sandstone offices, blocked-off stair cases in the courthouse, and windy, miserable parking lots to probate your late mother’s and husband’s wills. (Get smart–read up on how to avoid probate.)
    My choice? Fewer local lawyers, more local plumbers.

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