Nicole Griese

Nicole Griese

Owner & Lawyer, Griese Law Firm, P.C.
Sioux Falls, SD
Criminal Justice, 2011

"The more people you connect with and have relationships with, the better for you professionally in the long run. Also, take as many classes that peak your interest as you can, and then throw yourself wholeheartedly into them. You’ll retain more and enjoy yourself. Working and succeeding is great but enjoying yourself while working is better. I’d add take naps too. You’ll miss those later!"

Q&A with Nicole:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

After USD, I went on to law school in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I was even more active as editor-in-chief of our law school newspaper, vice president of North Carolina Advocates for Justice, president for Family Law Society and a member of advocates for human trafficking awareness. I was in the criminal justice clinic, externed for a semester for two local family and criminal defense lawyers and had a summer internship for an immigration firm.

After two years in Charlotte, I spent my last semester in the Twin Cities at University of Minnesota Law School. The highlight was getting to listen to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak, shake her hand and take a picture with her. I graduated a semester early in December 2014. I got a job back in Sioux Falls working at King Law Firm from 2015 to 2017.

I then practiced law at Eich Law office through spring 2018 when I decided to go out on my own. I primarily practice personal injury and criminal defense, with some family law, social security disability and miscellaneous civil litigation. I am also a part time public defender on felony cases in Lincoln County. I love what I do and rarely feel like I’m working.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

I was lucky enough to take several pre-law courses with Dr. Roche at USD who entirely shaped my initial framework for understanding criminal law and procedure. My senior year I took a small group course where we discussed case law and ideas on how to define what is just. It was helpful in law school and I think about those courses often.

I also spent a lot of time in English classes – my first major before I switched – and I had a lot of fun in the creative writing courses. I still love writing to this day although legal writing is entirely different. I hope to get back to writing for fun someday. Foremost, the networking and relationships formed at USD have been important since I relocated back home and have run into and worked with many Coyote alumni.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

Opening my own business and practicing law full time has been my greatest achievement. It was scary going on my own but exhilarating. At 28 years old, I opened my own law practice in 2018 in the 300 Building in downtown Sioux Falls. At that time, I only had a handful of clients to start with. By the end of June, I was “in the black” and didn’t need to get any financing to help. By September, I hired a paralegal and we moved to a bigger office in February 2019 on Phillips Avenue.

I hope to continue growing the business and have plans of hiring another employee later this year. We have been busy! I went from a handful of clients to helping nearly 200 clients in the first year. I like choosing my areas of practice and controlling my calendar so that I can give back to our community.

I am an active volunteer with Sioux Empire Teen Court and Community Accountability Board, which led to me becoming a Sioux Council board member. I’m also currently on the Board of Governors for South Dakota Trial Lawyers where we lobby law changes. Additionally, as a female lawyer, I’m active with Second Circuit Women in Law as treasurer and will step into the role of vice president in fall 2019. Last spring, I participated with EmBe’s Women in Workforce mentor program to encourage women to be strong. I love that being a business owner gives me that flexibility to give back to the community.

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

I was an active member of Pi Beta Phi. We focused on philanthropic events in the community like our annual Haunted House where all money raised went to local charity. We also focused on promoting reading, so we had a First Book program where we would go into the schools to read with students. I was a member of Colleges Against Cancer and was co-chair of fundraising my senior year. I wrote for the "Verve" column in The Volante for a year and loved it. I also participated in Dance Marathon for a few years and played intramural volleyball. It was a busy and fun four years in Vermillion!

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