Today’s Strain Morman Law Firm is the product of more than a century of dedicated, professional legal practice in Sturgis and the surrounding area. Its modern incarnation can be traced to 1955, when attorney Dale Morman (1927-2009) joined attorney Percy Helm to reinforce and expand upon a local law firm that had already gained a solid foothold in the Sturgis community and a strong reputation for professionalism and service in the early decades of its existence. Joining in 1967 was attorney Keith Smit, who, along with Dale Morman, practiced for many years under the name Morman Smit Law Firm. In 1994, after the gradual addition of several more attorneys, the Firm simplified its name to the Morman Law Firm, a moniker that remained until 2014, when it became the Strain Morman Law Firm in the wake of additional staff changes. A fixture in Sturgis since 1906, the Firm’s commitment to professionalism and service continues today.
Dale L. Morman (1927-2009)
Dale L. Morman, founding partner of the Morman Law Firm, was born in Crofton, Nebraska in April of 1927. In January of 1945 he was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving after World War II, until 1947. He began his studies at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota upon his return to the United States. Again, in 1950, he was asked to serve his country during the Korean War. In the fall of 1952, he resumed his studies at the University of South Dakota. In 1954 he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Law Degree. At this time he was admitted to the South Dakota State Bar. He then moved to Pierre, South Dakota, in 1955, and was appointed Stanley County State’s Attorney. In August of 1956, he went into partnership with Percy Helm in Sturgis, South Dakota. Mr. Morman held one elected position – Meade County State’s Attorney 1958-1962 and one appointed position - Sturgis City Attorney 1965-1966. In 1967, he began his affiliation with Keith Smit, and commenced the practice known as Morman and Smit. Subsequent attorneys were added over time, and in 1995, his practice was renamed the Morman Law Firm.
Dale was very active in all civic aspects in the City of Sturgis and Meade County. He developed a reputation for being a preeminent estate planner, probate attorney, corporate law, and trial lawyer. He served as a mentor for many attorneys who practiced under him and had a lasting impact on the people who he considered to be his friends. Dale was also an active pilot and skeet shooter, attending numerous tournaments across the western United States during his hay day. He continued his passion for skeet shooting and hunting over the years. Mr. Morman passed away on May 21, 2009.
Keith R. Smit - Of Counsel
Keith R. Smit has been practicing law in Sturgis for over 43 years, and is considered one of the preeminent corporate and probate attorneys in the state of South Dakota. Mr. Smit was born in Alta, Iowa in June of 1941. He attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1964, and majored in Economics. In 1967 he received his Juris Doctor, and was admitted to the South Dakota State Bar. He came to practice with Dale L. Morman in Sturgis, South Dakota. According to Mr. Morman, "I had to either hire him as a partner, or he was going to open up a law office across the street and put me out of business!" Mr. Morman wisely chose the former, and the two associated together until Mr. Morman’s death in 2009. Mr. Smit’s degree in Business Administration, his major in economics, and experience in running businesses was immediately put to work. His background in tax planning and probate planning created a unique opportunity for legal services for the clients in the Black Hills and West River area.
Over the years, Mr. Smit has also been actively involved in the community, donating his time and financial assistance to public improvement projects, such as the Sturgis Community Center, Woodle Field and Jeff Smit Memorial Track, and other economic projects. He has, on numerous occasions, held the position of Sturgis City Attorney, working under different mayors to promote and develop economic projects which have benefited the City of Sturgis specifically, and the area in general.
Keith still consults with practicing attorneys at the Strain Morman Law Firm in areas of estate planning, probate law, corporate law, real estate law and banking.
Keith and his wife, Ruth, reside in Sturgis. They frequently travel to Big Sky, Montana, to visit their children and grandchildren.