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. To learn about future dates of the program, please click on the Events Calendar for details.
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 on the west side of the state during their fall semester and on the east side of the state during their spring semester. Check out the Events page for updates on when and where these legal clinics will be held. 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 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 k-12 students, specifically from tribal communities, to consider 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 pathway from college to law school and from law school to the profession; and
(5) develop ties to tribal communities throughout South Dakota.
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 895,356 residents. Of the total population, Native Americans comprise approximately 8.6% of the population. Despite the strength of this figure, the Native American population makes up less than 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) Cheyenne River Sioux; (2) Crow Creek Sioux; (3) Flandreau Santee Sioux; (4) Lower Brule Sioux; (5) Oglala Sioux; (6) Rosebud Sioux; (7) Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate; (8) Standing Rock Sioux; and (9) Yankton Sioux. Collectively, they 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. If you or your school is interested to learn more about Project Destination, or to bring lawyers to your school to talk about our profession, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 answer questions survivors may have and to handle survivors’ cases.
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.