Home of both Mount Rushmore and the Sioux Nation, South Dakota is one of the most interesting, idyllic states in the entire country. South Dakota is a great place to work, particularly if you’re interested in becoming a paralegal. Compared to other states, South Dakota has a relatively small paralegal workforce, providing plentiful employment opportunities.
Contrary to the majority of states, South Dakota maintains minimum standards for paralegal work. You must meet these qualifications before you will be allowed to seek employment as a paralegal or a legal assistant.
How to Become a Paralegal in South Dakota
- Certification: A passing grade in the certified legal assistant (CLA) exam offered by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).
- Age: Legal adults over the age of 18 can be paralegals in South Dakota.
- Licensure: There is no licensing requirement to be employed as a paralegal in South Dakota.
- Degree: An American Bar Association (ABA) approved paralegal program; an accredited paralegal program that requires 60 credit hours; a bachelor’s degree in any field.
- Experience: Depending on your educational choice, you may be required to gain three years of legal experience and up to two years of in-house paralegal training.
- Citizenship: Only US citizens and legal aliens are allowed to work as paralegals in South Dakota.
- Background Checks: Background checks are not mandated by the state, but they may be requested by your employer.
- Conduct: Paralegals should follow the Rules of Professional Conduct that are mandated by the state of South Dakota.
Certification Process in South Dakota
Although South Dakota does not certify paralegals, it does maintain minimum professional standards that you must meet before being eligible to work as a paralegal. The easiest way to be approved to work in South Carolina is to pass the NALA certification exam. However, you can also become a South Dakota paralegal by meeting one of the following requirements:
- Completion of an ABA paralegal program.
- Completion of a program that has been accredited by an organization other than the ABA that requires sixty hours of in-classroom study.
- Completion of some other paralegal program and six months of training in a law firm.
- A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and at least six months of law firm training.
- Three years of legal experience and six months paralegal training in a law firm.
- Two years of law firm based paralegal training and a high school diploma or equivalent.
Degrees Related to Paralegals
Preferably, you will enroll in a paralegal studies program from an ABA approved institution. Completion of an ABA program will make it easier for you to become eligible for employment in South Dakota, and will make you a more desirable candidate for law firms in this state.
Major Cities in South Dakota
- The largest city in South Dakota is Sioux Falls thanks to its 164,676 residents.
- Rapid City has a population of 70,812 and is the second largest city.
- Although it’s not a city, the third highest population in South Dakota belongs to the Pine Ridge Indian, which has 28,700 residents.
What Does a Paralegal Do in South Dakota?
Paralegal work is centered around important legal tasks like writing documents, researching facts, finding evidence, speaking with clients about their case and providing assistance to attorneys while they handle a trial.
Legal assistants, claims adjusters, title examiners and legal secretaries are all careers related to paralegals.
Employment Numbers in South Dakota
In South Dakota in 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there 320 employed paralegals.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Salary Ranges in South Dakota
The annual mean wage for a paralegal in South Dakota is $42,730.
South Dakota Related Organizational Links
- South Dakota Paralegal/Legal Assistant Standards
- ABA Paralegal Programs in South Carolina
- National Association of Legal Assistants