Eric Schlimgen

Eric Schlimgen

Associate Attorney, Clayborne, Loos & Sabers
Rapid City, SD
Political Science, Criminal Justice, 2013, M.P.A., J.D., 2016

"Trust yourself and the education you received. Do not ever sell yourself short or fear rejection. USD provides students a world-class education and graduates can compete against anyone. Rely on the knowledge you gained, do not be afraid to take chances and reach out to alumni for help along the way."

Q&A with Eric:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

Currently, I am an associate attorney at Clayborne, Loos & Sabers in Rapid City, South Dakota. My professional pursuits are to develop a reputation as a leading young lawyer in the field of family law and criminal defense. I strive to give each client the attention, compassion and respect they deserve.

Additionally, I am committed to dedicating my time and education to volunteering for local non-profits. For me, this goes beyond taking pro bono or court appointed cases but utilizing the legal skill set USD provided me to assist non-profits, which truly change local communities. It is my belief that every person has a duty to make their community better and utilize whatever skillset they have in supporting the community. I strive to stay active volunteering with organizations that benefit my community, including: Pennington County Teen Court, Black Hills Mountain Bike Association, Ask-a-Lawyer program, Access-2-Justice, Rapid City Young Professional Group, Rapid City Arts Council and the Pennington County Bar.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

USD has influenced my career path by showing me that aspirations are never out of reach and there is an overwhelming amount of support for alumni.

USD’s vast alumni network influences my career every day. It is amazing how welcoming alumni are to take a phone call or to go out to lunch with a young alumnus. South Dakota’s Bar Association has done a tremendous job of partnering with the USD Law School to foster young lawyers in the first years of practice, making them feel welcome, informed and proud of their education. Having visited with other young lawyers outside of South Dakota, they have informed me this spirit of comradery is not always present. I do not take for granted how fortunate I am to have the support of the law school and State Bar of South Dakota.

I would not be as confident as I am in my profession and self without the education and experiences USD provided. I took full advantage of the opportunity to intern in a congressional office as well as study abroad as an undergraduate at USD. Both of those experiences were life changing. The internship showed me the application of all my political coursework and gave me a drive to continue onward to law school. Study abroad made me aware of a whole new outlook on life and changed my perception on how I view the world on a day-to-day basis.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement at USD was the continued success of the USD food recovery program.

I wanted to do something that would benefit the USD and Vermillion community, which both greatly shaped me into who I am today. From the late nights studying in the library I would often go to the MUC C-store for a snack and was astounded by the amount of food thrown away. I decided to make food recovery at USD my capstone project. Partnering with the Food Recovery Network, AWOL, USD food services and Vermillion Welcome Table, I was able to implement a food recovery program at USD.

The implementation was not without its share of bumps in the road, but I received an astounding amount of support from the USD and Vermillion community. Typically starting a food recovery program takes 1-2 years, but USD’s started in five months and has been going strong for three years. To date, thousands of pounds of food has been saved from the landfill and safely delivered to Vermillion’s food insecure population.

My greatest achievement is not the implementation of the program but its continued success after I graduated. The partnerships between the university and Vermillion community is what makes USD such an exceptional town and college experience. I am most proud that students still thrive to better the community they live in by volunteering to collect and deliver food which would otherwise be destined for the landfill and that the community has leaders who provide resources to the food insecure population.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

One of my favorite aspects of the USD experience is the plethora of student organizations and activities that were on campus. I still recall how excited and equally overwhelmed I was as a freshman at the USD student organization fair. I joined USD’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and participated on builds in the Siouxland area; End Violence Everywhere Now (EVEN), a group focused on facilitating workshops aimed at ending dating and domestic violence on campus; and went on my first Alternative Week Of off-campus Learning (AWOL) service-learning trip.

I went on to join other organizations and become a resident advisor for USD Housing, a Big Pal for the Big Pal Little Pal program in SERVE, participated in mock trial team, was president of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society USD Circle, was an inductee to Who’s Who Amongst American Colleges and Universities, and was a USD student government senator.

My first AWOL service-learning trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation transfixed my time and energy to advancing the organization. The next year I went on to become a site-leader and facilitated a week-long service-learning trip focusing on rural poverty and education in Tennessee. My junior and senior years I was honored to serve as president for AWOL. During my time as president, AWOL doubled the amount of Spring Break trips available, offered an additional international service trip, added weekend service-learning trips within the Siouxland area and adopted a section of highway on Highway 19.

I was also involved in the Criminal Justice Club and the Political Science League. These organizations allowed me to connect on a deeper level with my professors as well as peers and take control of my educational experience. They provided an arean in meaningful political discourse with classmates. 

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