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Cali Owings, Published December 30 2013

Where Are They Now? Four ND Yale Law School grads take divergent paths

EDITOR’S NOTE: As a new year begins, The Forum is checking back on former subjects of stories who have made us cry, smile, laugh – or all three. They’re people who made a mark on the region in one way or another. We’ll tell you where they are now.

FARGO – Before graduating from Yale Law School in 2006, Dakota Rudesill established a career as a defense and foreign policy adviser for former North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad.

Now as a law professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law in Columbus, Rudesill teaches to his background with courses in national security, cyberlaw and legislation.

He got his foot in the door of academia as a visiting professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., before he was offered a tenure-track position at Ohio State.

“I found a school that wanted somebody to do exactly the three things that I wanted to do,” he said.

The Fargo native was one of four other men from North Dakota in Yale Law School’s Class of 2006 – a statistical anomaly at the highly competitive school where only 6 percent of applicants are admitted. Of the 198-member class, Fargo-area natives Charlie Korsmo, Tom Sylvester, Joe Pull and Rudesill outnumbered students from Chicago.

The so-called North Dakota Caucus met after Rudesill found the others in a school booklet introducing new arrivals. He invited them to an Asian restaurant.

Since leaving New Haven, Conn., their paths have diverged, landing them in Minneapolis, Abu Dhabi, Cleveland and Columbus.

On the eve of their graduation from one of the nation’s top law schools, Pull and Korsmo were set for clerkships in Minneapolis and New Haven, respectively, while Sylvester and Rudesill joined East Coast law firms.

Korsmo joined the law school faculty at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 2011. He previously taught as a visiting law professor at Brooklyn Law School and practiced in New York City.

On top of his serious credentials as a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and work with the Environmental Protection Agency, Korsmo did screen time in films like “Hook” opposite Robin Williams and “Can’t Hardly Wait” as a kid.

Most recently Sylvester, a Fargo North High graduate, was in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city, working as the director of research, analysis and strategic planning for a government agency.

Pull, who hails from Colfax, joined Briol & Associates in November. He’s one of four Yale Law School graduates at the Twin Cities firm, which specializes in commercial cases. Before joining Briol & Associates, he practiced commercial and government enforcement litigation at a Washington, D.C., firm.

Pull, along with Rudesill, is one of nine lawyers allowed to practice in North Dakota who went to Yale.

Though he’s content teaching in Ohio, Rudesill maintains strong North Dakota ties.

“North Dakota is never far from our minds,” he said.

Rudesill said he married the “hometown girl.” His wife, Becca, the younger sister of his childhood best friend, lived two blocks away growing up. She’s an obstetrician at Ohio State. His mother-in-law is Kathy Hogan, who represents Fargo in the state House of Representatives.

He said it was great having Hogan around after his daughter Kate was born.

“During the day, I teach legislation. Then I come home and I get to talk legislation with a North Dakota state legislator,” he said.

Rudesill said his experience working in North Dakota before earning a juris doctorate has been “invaluable” to his career and he often draws upon his experiences with Conrad.

At Georgetown, where he oversaw a program for law students to work on Capitol Hill with nonprofit clients, he took students to meet with Conrad and fellow members of the North Dakota delegation.

North Dakota natives haven’t been overrepresented in his classes like the North Dakota Caucus in 2006.

“I don’t think I have too many North Dakotans here; that’s too bad,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599