Public Service Events
Ask - A - Lawyer
April 28-30, 2020
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
March 6, 2020
DAV - Sioux Falls, SD
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:
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 Nathan Chicoine, 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.
CURRENT DISASTER INFORMATION
On November 19, 2019, FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of South Dakota to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by tornadoes, severe storms and flooding from September 9 – September 26, 2019. The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Brookings, Charles Mix, Davison, Hanson, Hutchinson, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Moody, and Yankton, and the Flandreau Santee Indian Reservation and Yankton Indian Reservation.
Disaster survivors facing legal issues may call 1-800-952-3015 toll-free. Our hotline is hosted by East River Legal Services and will operate during normal business hours, 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m., Monday through Friday. Callers can leave a voicemail outside of normal business hours When connected to the hotline, callers should provide their name, phone number, brief details of the assistance needed and what county they live.
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.