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This week’s Up & Comer is Kelsey Knoer, who starts this month working in U.S. District Court for Judge Lawrence Piersol.
Name: Kelsey Knoer
Job title: Judicial law clerk who recently graduated from law school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
What brought you to Sioux Falls?
I was born and raised in South Dakota, and though I’ve spent some time exploring Minnesota, Nebraska and D.C., I have always felt a strong tie to this place that keeps bringing me back. Much of my family is here or at least in nearby Iowa, so I get to watch my nieces and nephews grow up and play sports and even graduate from high school — and boy does that make you feel old. So when I started looking for jobs, Sioux Falls was definitely on my radar. Then as I was visiting for interviews, I couldn’t help but fall in love with walking downtown. All the new boutiques, local businesses and restaurants, so much of Sioux Falls is beautiful, exciting and new!
What keeps you in Sioux Falls?
Good people, endless opportunities and perpetual growth. The entrepreneurial spirit is palpable, and it’s impossible not to get involved with inspiring people around you doing cool things. It’s also very clearly a place where you can pursue a meaningful and challenging career while caring for a family.
What attracted you to your job?
Working in the federal court system will expose me to a wide range of legal issues in all kinds of areas, which will bring new challenges and opportunities to learn with each day. It also gives me the opportunity to observe trial lawyers in action while learning from a judge’s observations of those lawyers. Ultimately, it’s an incredible opportunity to make me a better lawyer before I really even begin.
How did you get connected to your industry?
It’s funny, the other day I actually came across a poem I wrote somewhere around upper elementary or middle school age in which I explored the prospect of being a lawyer — though the final line concluded against it because I would have to “do homework for the rest of my life.” Then in high school, I played an overworked and angry lawyer in our school’s one-act play. So despite not having a single lawyer in the family, I guess whether I realized it or not, I recognized being a lawyer as within the realm of possibility. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, though, when I took a few sociology of law classes, that I recognized how society both shapes and is shaped by the law. Once I recognized that impact, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Describe your workplace in three words.
Ambitious, empowering, inspiring.
What’s one business you’d like to see in Sioux Falls that isn’t here now?
Absolutely, without a doubt, I want to see Uber or Lyft come to town.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Throughout law school, I truly dreaded questions like this because my answer to “What do you want to do with your law degree?” is typically “everything.” I have many interests and passions and never want to close myself off from opportunities that may present themselves. I’ve come to realize, though, that it’s not about the title of your position but what you do with that position to pursue your passions and exemplify your values that matters. So in five years, I hope to be using my position as an attorney to advocate for mental health issues, particularly as they intersect with the legal and military communities, and I hope to be furthering the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
Meet Kelsey Knoer, who starts this month working in U.S. District Court for Judge Lawrence Piersol.