South Dakota

Steps Toward a Paralegal Career in South Dakota

Follow the step by step process on how to become a paralegal below:

  1. Get Paralegal Education in South Dakota
  2. Obtain Paralegal Work Experience in South Dakota
  3. Become a Nationally Certified Paralegal in South Dakota
  4. Investigate Paralegal Jobs in South Dakota
  5. After Becoming a Paralegal in South Dakota

Paralegal Job Description in South Dakota

The South Dakota Legislature has set minimum requirements that all paralegals and legal assistants in the state must meet. These include education, experience, or national certification. Aspiring paralegals who wish to work in South Dakota must meet qualifications by fulfilling one of these requirements. We will go over each option in turn in this document.

Step 1

Get Paralegal Education in South Dakota

One way in which aspiring South Dakota paralegals can meet the South Dakota Legislature’s requirements to work as a paralegal or legal assistant is through education.

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If you choose the educational route, you must complete one of the following:

  • Graduate from a non-ABA-approved paralegal program of at least 60 semester hours in duration
  • Graduate from another course of study for paralegals/legal assistants plus have at least six months of on-the-job paralegal training
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and six months of on-the-job paralegal training
  • Hold a high school diploma/GED and two years of on-the-job paralegal training
  • Hold a high school diploma/GED, three years of law-related experience and six months of on-the-job paralegal training
  • Graduate from an American Bar Association-approved program for paralegals/legal assistants

These paralegal/legal assistant education programs in South Dakota are ABA-approved:

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Step 2

Paralegal Work Experience in South Dakota

Some of the educational requirements in Option 1 above require that you have a certain amount of paralegal work experience, gained under the supervision of a licensed attorney. A great place to find this kind of experience is through pro bono or legal aid agencies. In South Dakota, these include:

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Step 3

Become a Certified Paralegal in South Dakota

Another way to fulfill the paralegal qualification requirements of the South Dakota Legislature is to pass the Certified Paralegal (CP) (formerly known as the Certified Legal Assistant, CLA) exam of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. This exam is designed for paralegals who are new to the field. It tests your knowledge of substantive law on:

  • Contracts
  • Business Organizations
  • Civil Litigation
  • American Legal System

Additionally, the exam tests your knowledge and skills in judgment and analytical ability, legal research, ethics and communications. Passing the exam gives you the right to use the credentials CP (Certified Paralegal) behind your name. It also fulfills South Dakota’s requirements for qualification for paralegals.

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Step 4

Investigate Paralegal Jobs in South Dakota

Jobs for paralegals in South Dakota are available within law firms, for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations, and within many other areas. Recent employers of paralegals in South Dakota include:

  • Beardsley, Jensen & Vonwald – Rapid City
  • Eich Law Office, Prof LLC – Hartford
  • Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP – Rapid City
  • Siegel, Barnett & Schutz, LLP – Sioux Falls
  • South Dakota State University – Brookings
  • POET – Sioux Falls
  • Pennington County Sheriff’s Office – Rapid City
  • The Bancorp, Inc. – Sioux Falls
  • Daktronics – Brookings

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Step 5

After Becoming a Paralegal in South Dakota

Congratulations! You are now a full-fledged paralegal in South Dakota! If you haven’t already, think about joining the South Dakota Paralegal Association, the state’s only association for paralegals and legal assistants. This organization can help you find continuing legal education, if necessary; network with other legal assistants and attorneys, and advance your career opportunities.

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