Lisa K. Marso


Lisa Marso provides advising, training, policy and contract drafting, and investigating services to her clients on employment, governmental, church, and insurance benefit law. She regularly represents employers and insurers in court and regulatory proceedings such as discrimination, harassment, wage, and employment contract claims, and LHD insurance matters. Her expertise is evidenced through years of awards such as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers (top 5% of all attorneys), Chambers & Partners Band 1 (highest of 6 bands) in Employment & Labor Law, and Martindale (rated 5.0/5.0 in Labor & Employment Law). With her near 30-year legal career, Lisa uses her experiences and knowledge to help her clients make solid decisions to better impact their businesses and lives.


Lisa Marso is a partner in our litigation section, with a primary focus in employment, governmental, church, and life/health/disability law. Her clients also include both the small employer, as well as those who employ thousands of employees. Clients represented include banks, cities and counties, manufacturers, insurance companies, franchisors, and health care providers. She also serves as the appointed City Attorney for Brandon, South Dakota, and for Split Rock Township.

Lisa has particular employment law experience in:

  • Successfully representing employers and insurers in administrative, civil and appellate claims. In so doing, she has assisted in developing legal precedent that protects both employers and insurers in South Dakota.
  • Obtaining numerous dismissals of cases involving bad faith allegations against employers and insurers.
  • Providing training in the workplace, speaking to small and large employers, and conducting pre-litigation investigations to resolve disputes prior to litigation being undertaken.
  • Labor negotiations on behalf of the employer and assistance to employers in unfair labor practice matters.

In addition to her involvement in employment law such as Title VII, ADA/ADAAA, ERISA, FLSA, COBRA, EPA, PDA, and unfair labor practice matters, Lisa has substantial varied litigation experience. This practice includes discovery, mediation, trials, and appellate work wherein she has been involved in trying over 20 cases, and writing and/or arguing nearly 50 cases to the South Dakota Supreme Court or Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Over 80 cases are published involving a case in which Lisa represented her clients.

Lisa obtained her law degree from the University of South Dakota School of Law (1994), graduating in the top 10% of her class. She is admitted to practice law in South Dakota. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Art degree from the University of Minnesota, Southwest (1991), graduating Summa Cum Laude. Lisa has lived most of her life in the Sioux Falls area and resides in Brandon, SD with her husband Randy (who retired from education). They have two now-adult children (a social worker, and a physician). She enjoys running, swimming, biking, baking, reading, participating in community events, and spending time with colleagues, friends and family.

Professional and Community

  • The Defense Research Institute (Committees: State Representative; Employment Law (Annual State Law Compendium Contributor (SD) (2011 to present)); Health, Life & Disability)
  • South Dakota Defense Lawyers Association (Past President & Executive Committee)
  • State Bar of South Dakota (Committees: Employment & Labor Law; Education Law; Workers’ Compensation;  Disciplinary Board, and the Bar Commission)
  • Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Committees: Employment, Health, Life & Disability)
  • Federal Practice Committee-District of South Dakota
  • American Bar Association (Labor Law)

Awards and Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers in America in Employment Law/Management (2012-present) (Lawyer of the Year 2022)(100% based on peer reviews)
  • Chambers & Partners (Band 1 (highest)- Labor & Employment)
  • Super Lawyers (2012-present) (selects top 5% of all attorneys for Super Lawyer List each year)
  • Martindale (rated 5.0/5.0 in Labor & Employment Law)
  • South Dakota State Bar President (2022-2023)
  • Appointed Commission Member-South Dakota Court Commission on Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession (1 of 7 attorneys appointed by the South Dakota Supreme Court)
  • Appointed South Dakota Bar Licensure Assessment Committee (1 of 4 private practice attorneys appointed by the South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice)
  • Brandon Community Foundation-2022 Lifetime Achievement Community Recipient
  • Hiring Committee South Dakota State Bar Executive Director (2022)
  • South Dakota Bar Foundation
  • Brandon Community Foundation -Founding Board Member, Officer (including President) (since 2008 over $1 million raised, and over $300,000 grants provided)

Reported Cases and Results

Representation in Employment Law Cases with Published Decisions

Lisa has represented clients for nearly 30 years in employment-related litigation.  That representation has resulted in substantial published court decisions including:

  • Anderson v. Northland Group Hardees: Dismissing sexual harassment claim of male subordinate finding relationship was not unwelcomed
  • Engel v. Miller Police Dept: Granting immunity to officers and city related to failure to arrest husband
  • Ernesti v. City of Sioux Falls: Dismissing age discrimination claim finding no pretext for established legitimate termination reason
  • Griffith v. City of Watertown: Dismissing sex harassment and discrimination, retaliation, and emotional distress claims of police officer
  • Henning v. Avera McKennan Hospital: Upholding termination of employee finding at-will status not surrendered by policies, and pre-termination reporting to other agencies or alleged investigation flaws did not create claim for defamation or intentional infliction of emotional distress
  • Hernandez v. Avera Queen of Peace: Affirming jury verdict as to termination of physician who alleged defamation, FMLA and ADA claims
  • Hulzebos v. City of Sioux Falls: Disqualifying former employer’s attorney from representing plaintiff in lawsuit
  • Koch v. Tracy: Dismissing defamation and employment claims against City and Mayor for withdraw of employment offer
  • Kolda v. City of Yankton: Jury verdict in favor of employer on wrongful discharge claim by police officer with failure to exhaust administrative remedies preclusion issues
  • LaCoe v. City of Sisseton: Dismissing wrongful termination claim based on sex and due process where police officer was deemed to be a Brady cop and not provided due process hearing
  • Lopez v. City of Brookings: Dismissing race harassment and discrimination and ADA-association claims
  • Naambwe v. John Morrell: Jury verdict for employer on race discrimination and retaliation claims
  • Thorton v. Caroll Institute: Dismissing 1983 claim based on failure to provide ADA accommodation
  • Tornow v. City of Sioux Falls: Affirming production denial of other employee personnel records, board appointments for grievance appeal, and termination based on misconduct
  • Treiweiller v. Wells Fargo Bank: Affirming dismissal of wrongful termination claim based on pregnancy finding employee was not constructively discharged
  • Warnack v. City of Canton: Dismissing 14th Amendment and Privacy Act claims, including findings related to grievance policies

Representation in Insurance Law Cases with Published Decisions

Lisa’s representation of insurance companies through her substantial career has also resulted in numerous published court decisions such as:

  • Anspach v. United of Omaha Life Ins Co: Reducing attorney’s fees award requested related to motion to compel discovery
  • Berry v. Provident Life & Accd Ins. Co: Finding claim governed by ERISA so dismissing state law and punitive damages claims
  • Broughton v. Unum life Ins Co of America: Denying requested discovery in ERISA disability claim
  • Metler v. Acuity Ins. Co: Dismissing breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation claim regarding long term care policy
  • Wilson v. Kleinsasser: ERISA attorney fees award

Publications and Presentations

  • Thomson Reuters Practical Law State Author for Employment Law (2013-2016)
  • Defense Research Institute Employment Law State editor (2011-2016)
  • Employment Practices: What Counties Need to Know
  • Employment Law Basics: What South Dakota Lawyers Should Know
  • Employer EEOC Mandated Anti-Discrimination, Harassment & Retaliation Awareness Training- (English and Spanish)
  • Dealing with the Sick, Injured & Disabled Employee
  • Medical Marijuana-Impact on Employer Issues
  • Employment Background Checks & Social Media Monitoring
  • Employer Drug Testing
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Hiring, Firing and Managing Employees
  • Investigation, Termination and Document Retention

Seminars and Training

Lisa has presented training including the pivotal sexual harassment training required by the South Dakota Supreme Court, training required by the EEOC post-finding of violation, and training for employers to educate and support employees.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • ADA & FMLA Leave Issues
  • Anti-Nepotism/Non-Fraternization Policies, Preventing Retaliation Claims, & Dealing with Gossip
  • Background Checks & Social Media Monitoring
  • Confidentiality Requirements of Medical Records
  • Covid Claims & Concerns
  • Dealing with the Sick, Injured or Disabled Employee
  • Discrimination, Harassment & Retaliation – for Supervisors
  • Discrimination, Harassment, Non-Fraternization, & ADA-Training for Non-Managerial Employees
  • Drug Testing in the Workplace
  • Emerging Employment Law Issues
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Employer Key Policies (Title VII, ADA, FMLA, EEO)
  • Employment Law Basics – What Every Attorney Should Know
  • Employment Law Updates
  • FMLA, ADA, Addictions & Illnesses
  • Generations at Work: Motivation and Cultivation of Employees & Strategies
  • Hiring & Background Checks
  • Hiring, Firing and Managing Employees
  • Hiring Issues in the Workplace
  • Independent Contractor vs. Employee General Employment Law Considerations
  • Investigation, Termination and Document Retention
  • Medical Marijuana – Impact on Employer Issues
  • Manager & Department Head Harassment & Discrimination Training
  • Proper Interviews of Potential Employees
  • Relationship Between Worker’s Compensation Claims, ADA & FMLA
  • Release of Employment Claims
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention Training – Unified Judicial System
  • Social Media – Pre, Post & During Employment Issues
  • Terminations – Key Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Weed in the Workplace
  • What Supervisors Need to Know about Employment Law Claims
  • Workplace Bullying
  • Workplace Related Social Media Issues