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Melissa A. Sommers


I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa where I joined the Air National Guard at the age of 17. After graduating high school, I quickly went to basic training and technical school. I attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where I received two degrees-one in Psychology and the other in Criminal Justice. While at Iowa State, I was recognized on the national level for my academic achievements and received the 2011 USA Today All-USA College Academic 2nd Team award.

After graduating from Iowa State University, I went on two deployments for the Air National Guard. I then attended law school at the University of South Dakota. At law school, I served as Managing Editor of the South Dakota Law Review and met my husband. During law school, I was named 2013 Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for the entire Air National Guard. I served 13 wonderful years in the Sioux City Air National Guard.

After graduating law school with honors, I clerked for the Honorable Christopher McDonald at the Iowa Court of Appeals. Following my clerkship, I worked in private practice in Sioux City. I later moved to Sioux Falls and practiced as a Veteran's Attorney at East River Legal Services, followed by several years with the Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office.

When I'm not practicing law, you can find me spending time with my husband Chris and our Westie, Scout. I also love trying out new workout classes and antiquing.

Practice Areas

  • Criminal Defense
  • Family Law
  • Divorce


  • University of South Dakota School of Law, Vermillion, South Dakota
    • J.D. - 05/2015
    • Honors: With Honors
  • Iowa State University
    • Bachelor of Science - 2011
    • Honors: magna cum laude
    • Major: Psychology
  • Iowa State University
    • Bachelor of Arts - 05/2011
    • Honors: magna cum laude
    • Major: Interdisciplinary Studies, Criminology and Criminal Justice

Professional Associations

  • Iowa State Bar Association
  • South Dakota State Bar Association
  • South Dakota Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Current Employment Position

  • Associate Attorney

Bar Admissions

  • Iowa, 2015
  • South Dakota, 2016
  • U.S. District Court District of South Dakota, 2016


  • Melissa A. Knight, Stalking and Cyberstalking in the United States and Rural South Dakota: Twenty-Four Years After the First Legislation, 59 S.D. L. REV. 392 (2014)
  • Marilyn A. Cornish, Nathaniel G. Wade, & Melissa A. Knight, Understanding Group Therapists’ Use of Spiritual and Religious Interventions in Group Therapy, 63 INT’L J. GRP. PSYCHOTHERAPY 572 (2012)