South Dakota paralegal schools offer students the ability to earn a paralegal degree in one of America’s fastest-growing career fields. While South Dakota paralegals can’t offer legal advice or represent clients, they do play a key role in legal offices of all kinds. About 440 paralegals worked in the state as of 2018.1 The highest concentration of paralegals in the state can be found in the Sioux Falls area, where about half of South Dakota’s paralegal workforce is employed.1
How to Become a Paralegal in South Dakota
There are a number of schools that offer associate and bachelor’s degree programs that prepare students to become paralegals in South Dakota, in surrounding states, and online. South Dakota law requires paralegals and legal assistants to meet minimum qualifications in order to work in the state. Although there are several routes to meeting these qualifications, the most commonly followed path is to complete an American Bar Association-approved paralegal program. As a result, aspiring paralegals in the state should strongly consider seeking education in paralegal studies, especially one that offers an internship so that students can gain experience they can use later.
South Dakota Paralegal Salary and Job Outlook
Paralegals in South Dakota saw average salaries of $49,560 per year in 2018.1 While the state employs a relatively low number of paralegals, the field is expected to grow in the state, increasing by 19.4% through 2026 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.2 South Dakota also boasts a low unemployment rate, with one of the lowest rates in the nation at 2.8% as of March 2019.3
Profiles of Well-Known Schools in South Dakota
Sinte Gleska University: Sinte Gleska University offers a bachelor’s degree in business with a minor in legal studies that prepares graduates to work for tribal government and business organizations as well as to work to improve justice in Indian country. The Sinte Gleska University business program seeks to prepare students for meaningful work with an emphasis on contributing to their communities. Graduates of the program may seek opportunities in the Rosebud Sioux Tribal court system or other court systems, working in roles as tribal lay advocates and/or paralegals. Graduates are also prepared to pursue higher education, including law school.
Top Law Firms for Paralegal Graduates in South Dakota
- The Bangs McCullen Law Firm was founded in the Dakota Territory before South Dakota became a state, and has developed with changing legal theory and technology to become one of the most respected law firms in South Dakota today. The firm’s attorneys work in a variety of practice areas from its offices in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Bangs McCullen regularly recruits for paralegals.
- Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith LLP is one of the largest law firms in South Dakota and has grown its practice by listening to its clients’ needs. Davenport Evans invites qualified paralegals to inquire about opportunities with the firm.
- Gunderson Palmer Nelson Ashmore LLP partners with its clients to provide solutions to their needs, and prides itself on its experience in various areas of the law. Gunderson Palmer frequently recruits for paralegals to join its team.
Paralegal Schools and Programs in South Dakota
An asterisk indicates that one or more of the school’s programs have been approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Sinte Gleska University (Mission)
Minor | Legal Studies
101 Antelope Lake Cir
Mission, SD 57555
*Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA)
- South Dakota Paralegal Association – This non-profit organization was established to grow the paralegal profession and is afflicted with the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
2. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
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