Public Service Events
Ask - A - Lawyer
South Dakotans can get free legal advice from experienced lawyers when the State Bar of South Dakota sponsors the annual Ask-A-Lawyer program each May. Each call is handled anonymously by experienced attorney volunteers. Last year Ask-A-Lawyer answered over 800 calls from East River to West River South Dakota, ranging from family issues to contracts, wills, real estate, and more. The calls are not intended to be an in-depth analysis of the caller’s legal concerns, but to answer general legal questions and, if appropriate, refer the caller to specific lawyer referral services or a government agency.
Veterans Legal Clinics
The University of South Dakota School of Law Veterans Legal Education Group ("VLEG"), with support from the SD Young Lawyers Section and State Bar Veterans Committee, hosts drop in clinic for veterans throughout the academic year. VLEG hosts clinics in Hot Springs and Rapid City during their fall semester and in Watertown and Sioux Falls during their spring semester. Dates and locations for the clinics are as follows:
September 13, 2018 - VA Hospital in Hot Springs, SD (500 North 5th Street) from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.
September 14, 2018 - American Legion in Rapid City, SD (818 E Saint Patrick St) from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.
Dates and locations for the 2019 Spring Clinics TBD.
The Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of South Dakota has a strong commitment to public service. Public service is essential to educating members, strengthening our communities, and encouraging attorneys from all backgrounds to get involved. In 2017, the SD YLS launched Project Destination, which embodies the goal of recruiting Native American students to the practice of law. Project Destination's design is a moderated panel. Panelists consist of young lawyers who answer questions ranging from college to law practice. Specifically, panelists strive to generally field questions about law school, the application process, financial aid experiences, locating resources, areas of practice, and the law's dedication to the community. The role of the panelist, while critical, requires nothing more than attendance, engagement, and hopefully to inspire.
In taking up this project, the goals of the SD YLS are to:
(1) educate students about the legal community;
(2) provide exposure and interaction;
(3) encourage and facilitate the law school admissions process;
(4) provide a pipeline from college to law school and from law school to the profession; and
(5) develop ties to the Native American community.
This project is important not only because it emphasis the importance of diversity and inclusion, but because it identifies a grave disparity in South Dakota. South Dakota is home to 858,469 residents. Of the total population, Native Americans comprise approximately 10% of the population. Despite the strength of this figure, the Native American population only makes up about 2% of our states lawyers. Therefore, initiatives like Project Destination are critical.
South Dakota is rich in tribal history and is home to nine federally recognized tribes: (1) the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe; (2) the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe; (3) the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe; (4) the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; (5) the Oglala Sioux Tribe; (6) the Rosebud Sioux Tribe; (7) the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; (8) the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; and (9) the Yankton Sioux Tribe. These tribes represent The Great Sioux Nation or Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-ee Shakoh-win). Strong in culture, tradition, and language many of the tribes maintain tribal schools. That is why the SD YLS partners with tribal schools for Project Destination. We welcome the opportunity to connect with more students throughout the coming year.
If you or your community is interested in bringing Project Destination to a school near you, please contact Tamara Nash.
Teen Court Volunteer Recruitment
The State Bar Young Lawyers Section and Women in Law Committee welcome attorney volunteers to assist with Teen Court in their local communities. This program, also known as LAY TRACS (Lawyers Assisting Youth to Take Responsibility and Create Solutions), began in 2017 with the hope to increase attorney involvement in the Teen Court process.
Lack of volunteer participation in our youth diversion and/or teen court programs is the number one barrier to a successful program. The Young Lawyer Section and the Women in Law Committee are challenging members of the State Bar to regularly participate in the twelve Teen Court programs across the state. Teen Courts offer youth the opportunity to take responsibility for their minor offenses and to make amends for any harm done without having to go through the formal court process. Attorneys are needed as judges and to train teen advocates – who act as prosecutor and defense counsel during the teen court proceedings. Teens also participate by serving on the Teen Court jury that sentences the offender. Any student participating in Teen Court is bound to have a better understanding of how our judicial system works and the offender hopefully “lays tracks” to make better decisions in the future.
To participate in LAY TRACS, contact your local Teen Court Coordinator. For more information on the Teen Court program and where you can sign up to volunteer, please visit the SD Law Help Teen Court Website.
President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which is subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113). Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
Each year, the American Bar Association designates a new theme to celebrate law in our country and to highlight the importance of our legal system. The State Bar of South Dakota joins various local bars, businesses, schools, and other organizations in conducting programs associated with improving the public's understanding of our justice system and the rule of law.
To learn more about Law Day and what you can do to be involved, please visit the American Bar Association Website.