SBSD committees develop, implement, and oversee many State Bar goals and programs. Committees are composed of SBSD members, appointed by the SBSD President. Members volunteer their leadership, expertise, and service to benefit the State Bar of South Dakota, the legal profession, and the community. One of the best ways to enhance your professional growth and keep your practice on the cutting edge is by participating in committee activities.
Current Committees include:
Section membership is based on the bylaws of each Section. For example, the Young Lawyers Section is available to any member under the age of 36 or less than ten years in practice (whichever occurs later). Other Sections are open to any state bar member. State bar members are encouraged to indicate their interest in the Public Sector Section and Real Property, Probate & Trust Section when they complete their committee preference form on an annual basis.
Current Sections include:
- PUBLIC SECTOR SECTION
- REAL PROPERTY, PROBATE & TRUST SECTION
- YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION
Have questions about what a committee or section does? Check out the committee and section mission statements Committee Section Mission Statements, contact the chair, or Strategic Plan Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Current Committee Assignments 2021-2022 Committee Assignments and 2020-2021 Officers and Related Groups
The State Bar of South Dakota, recognizing the need to improve the delivery of legal services to all citizens of the State, formed Access to Justice, Inc., to:
(1) provide for the coordination of pro bono lawyers to assist poor citizens with their legal problems, thus providing access to justice for those lacking financial resources to hire a lawyer ;
(2) help ensure compliance with lawyer’s ethical obligation to never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed;
(3) improve the delivery of legal services to all citizens of the state;
(4) improve the delivery of legal services to the poor; and
(5) provide centralized information, direction and assistance for legal service programs in the State of South Dakota.
In order to participate in the program, a lawyer must be a member in good standing with the State Bar of South Dakota and must agree to take at least one pro bono case each year. Attorneys who participate in the A2J pro bono programs make a difference to improve the lives of many people and their families in South Dakota.
The Access to Justice program Modest Means program is a reduced-rate legal assistance program offered to qualifying applicants. Pursuant to the Modest Means program, the client pays the attorney at the reduced rate of $94/hour and each retainer is capped at $650. For instance, if the first retainer is exhausted, you can request a 2nd retainer that is again capped at $650, and so forth until the matter is completed. All Modest Means billing & payment is handled through the attorney’s office. The client is also responsible for any related legal expenses including filing fees, service of process fees, mediation, etc. *Attorneys interested in participating in the Modest Means program are encouraged to first accept a pro bono case through Access to Justice. For more information contact Denise Langley at email@example.com.
Contact Denise Langley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-855-287-3510 to learn more about Access to Justice, Inc.
What is SD Free Legal Answers?
Legal Answers is a secure website where South Dakota residents can ask an attorney for help with a legal issue. Qualified users* post questions about civil legal problems and receive advice from volunteer attorneys. Volunteer attorneys provide information and basic legal advice to eligible clients without any expectation of long-term representation. It’s like a virtual walk -up legal clinic.
Why is Legal Answers needed?
Legal Answers addresses the ‘connectivity’ problem that many lower-income people face:
- People living in rural areas often can’t find legal help because there are very few legal aid and pro bono resources in their communities.
- People living in urban areas may be unable to access legal aid services because they lack transportation or childcare, or they may work during the day.
- Legal Answers provides legal help for people who are turned away from legal aid offices where there are not enough resources to help everyone.
How does Legal Answers work?
- Legal Answers uses technology to eliminate common barriers to attorneys doing pro bono work including geographic location, a busy work schedule, and family obligations.
- The client and volunteer will interact asynchronously (not in real time) via a secure website.
- Attorneys are covered by the program’s malpractice insurance and can choose to remain anonymous to clients.
Questions? - Contact Elizabeth Overmoe at email@example.com.
I am an Attorney. I am the Answer.
Ask - A - Lawyer
WE CURRENTLY DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING CALENDARED FOR 2021 AS OUR CALL CENTER VENUES STILL HAVE COVID RESTRICTIONS THAT DO NOT ALLOW OUR VOLUNTEER ATTORNEYS ACCESS.
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.
Contact Ask-A-Lawyer Co-Chairs Chris Christianson (Rapid City) or Reece Almond (Sioux Falls) for more information.
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 Brookings and Sioux Falls during their spring semester. Dates and locations for the clinics are as follows:
If you would like to volunteer or have any questions about the clinics, call (605) 658-3530 and a USD law student will return your call.
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 of its emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusion within the profession, 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.
Contact Ole Olesen, YLS President, for more information.
Disaster Legal Services Hotline
When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, establishes a toll-free number for disaster survivors to request legal assistance. Funding for the toll-free line comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707). The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in turn collaborates with state bar associations and other legal organizations to recruit volunteers in affected areas to handle survivors’ cases.
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.
Attorneys who participate in three or more Teen Court sessions during a calendar year will be recognized at the Young Lawyers Mixer at the Bar Convention the following year and receive tokens of our appreciation. 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. Once you participate in a session, please email Caroline.Ststka@state.sd.us with your name, the date of participation, and location.
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.
Nominating petitions for bar commission should be submitted to the State Bar Office by May 1st, for printing in the Annual Meeting Program. If you have questions about what the commission does, contact your local commissioner for more information.
At Large Petition- 15 signatures required
Circuit Petition - 5 signatures required
Young Lawyers Section
Election of the YLS Board of Directors takes place at the State Bar Annual Meeting. Any member of the Section in good standing is eligible for the position of director for the specific Judicial Circuit in which that member resides or maintains an office at the time of election. The at-large director may reside or maintain an office in any Judicial Circuit in the State of South Dakota. In order to have your name added to the slate of candidates, please contact the YLS President by May 25th of the year you would like to join the SD YLS Board of Directors. For other involvement in the Section, please contact your SD YLS Circuit Representative.
2021-2022 President - Ole Olesen