Michael S. McKnight


Known throughout the State for his practical and common sense advice, Mike McKnight has represented hundreds of employers, self-insurers, and insurers in workers’ compensation and employment matters. Throughout his nearly thirty years of practice, Mike has also defended insurers in claims of bad faith and provided counsel to employers in virtually every aspect of employment law.

Most recently, Mike has developed an active and growing practice as a mediator of all types of disputes. His passion for helping people resolve their differences allows him to assist the parties in creating positive and cost effective solutions to their legal problems.


Mike McKnight was born April 12, 1958, in Duluth Minnesota. He graduated in 1981 from South Dakota State University with a degree in Wildlife & Fisheries Management and a minor in Chemistry. Following a short time at the University of Idaho working on a Master’s Degree in Fisheries Biology, Mike attended the University of South Dakota School of Law and graduated with honors in 1986. Upon graduation Mike joined the firm and has practiced continually since 1986.

During the course of his practice, Mike has represented hundreds of employers, their insurers and self-insurers across South Dakota. A partner in the employment law section, Mike’s vast experience before the South Dakota Department of Labor includes having tried over 150 cases in front of administrative law judges. In addition, he has handled administrative appeals to both the circuit court, the South Dakota Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mike has also defended workers’ compensation bad faith claims and has an active practice as a mediator having mediated over 300 cases. Mike is proud to have been the first South Dakota lawyer selected as a Fellow in the College of Worker’s Compensation Lawyers. He is also proud to have been inducted in to the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals and is a panel mediator for Resolute Systems, LLC. Mike has lectured extensively on the subject of workers’ compensation and employment law. He has also served as an expert witness for the defense in bad faith cases.

Mike has been actively involved in the SD Bar having served on the Disciplinary Board, Ethics Committee and the ADR Committee. He was instrumental in establishing Kids Chance of SD which provides scholarships to children impacted by the injury or death of a parent in a work related accident.

Mike is married with four grown children and has a passion outside the law for conservation and environmental related issues.

Professional and Community

• American Bar Association
• ABA Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
• State Bar of South Dakota
• State Bar of South Dakota – ADR Committee (Present Chair)
• Past Member of State Bar of South Dakota Disciplinary Board and Ethics Committee
• The Defense Research Institute – Worker’s Compensation Committee
• National Worker’s Compensation Defense Network – South Dakota Representative
• The College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers – Fellow
• Kid’s Chance of SD, Inc.
• Food to You
• South Dakota Bowhunters Inc.

Awards and Recognitions

• Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent
• Fellow, College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
• Member of National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals
• Recognized by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers and Great Plains Super Lawyers

Reported Cases and Results

•Jewett v. Zandstra Const., 800 NW2d 345 (SD 2011)
•Kuhle v. Levy Chiropractic, 711 NW2d 244 (SD 2006)
•Woodcock v. City of Lake Preston, 704 NW2d 32 (SD 2005)
•Clausen v. Northern Plains Recycling, 663 NW2d 685 (SD 2003)
•St. Luke’s Midland Regional Medical Center v. Kennedy, 653 NW2d 880 (SD 2002)
•Vaughn v. John Morrell & Co., 606 NW2d 925 (SD 1999)
•Sutherland v. Queen of Peace Hosp., 576 NW2d 21 (SD 1998)

Publications and Presentations

•“The Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Workers’ Compensation.”
Presented at the South Dakota Workers’ Compensation Summit, June 2015, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

•“How to Prepare Yourself (and Your Client) for Mediation.”
Presented at South Dakota Bar Nuts and Bolts CLE, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, April 2013.

•2012 South Dakota Worker’s Compensation Summit (May 24, 2012)

•2011 South Dakota Worker’s Compensation Summit (May 26, 2011)

•”Return to Work Issues” (January 2001)

•”ADA, FMLA and Worker’s Compensation in South Dakota.”
Presented at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 2000.

•”Worker’s Compensation Issues in South Dakota” (1997-1999)

•”Employee Handbooks” (1998)

•“Personnel Law Update 1996 & 1997″ – Counsel on Education in Management

•”Advanced Worker’s Compensation in South Dakota” (1996)

•”A Hands-On Approach to Labor and Employment Law In South Dakota.”
Presented at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1995.

•”Ethics and Law Office Management” – USD School of Law (1991-1995)

•“Worker’s Compensation in South Dakota” (1991-1993)