Become a Paralegal in South Dakota

As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported about 450 paralegal jobs in South Dakota. Paralegals here earned an average salary of $50,410, or $24.23 per hour during this time.

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It takes a specialized education to become a paralegal. Find out more about the options in your area and how you can get the training you need through a flexible online program that fits your schedule.

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Paralegals with more experience, particularly in a specialty area of law, often earn more per hour and get the prime positions; the top-paid paralegals here (top 10%) earn upwards of $64,570, or $31.04 per hour.

Growth in this profession remains strong. Working under the supervision of attorneys, paralegals are increasingly seen as means of obtaining quality legal services at a lower cost. In addition, the law now impacts virtually every aspect of life and, as a result, more legal services are needed not only by law firms, but by corporations, social and environmental groups, the criminal justice system, and government entities.

Paralegal Certification

There is no mandatory licensing or certification required to work as paralegal or legal assistant in South Dakota. South Dakota codified Law CHAPTER 16-18 – POWERS AND DUTIES OF ATTORNEYS, Section 34 gives the definition of legal assistants and rules of professional conduct. These rules apply to all unlicensed persons who work under the supervision of attorneys and are presented as having training or education qualifying them to assist in handling legal matters or document preparation for clients. A revision of these rules was presented to the South Dakota Supreme Court in 2006 by the State Bar, but the proposal was rejected.

Where to Earn Your Paralegal Certificate or Degree in South Dakota

Paralegal Associate Degrees

  • National American University (NAU)

    A private, four-year university, National American University (NAU) has been repeatedly recognized as a military-friendly school. It offers an Associate of Applied Science in paralegal studies at its Rapid City and Sioux Falls campuses that utilizes a performance-based curriculum. Student learn substantive and procedural law, in addition to developing practical skills in research, oral and written communication, document preparation and using legal technology. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions in law firms, business, the court system or government agencies, or can apply their credits toward a bachelor’s degree.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $31,838; $16,400 for military students (based on 2013 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Legal Principles
    • Law Office Technology
    • Legal Research I & II
    • Criminal Procedure
    • Classical Rhetoric in a Digital Age
  • Western Dakota Technical Institute

    Located in South Dakota’s Black Hills, Western Dakota Technical Institute (WDTI) is a two-year public institution offering a paralegal/legal assistant.Associate in Applied Science. WDT has very specific goals for students in this program encompassing life skills, analytical skills, communication skills, technology skills, teamwork, social values and employability upon graduation. Students learn ethics, time management, substantive and procedural law, how to analyze legal issues and oral and written communication skills. Both up-to-date computer skills and traditional legal reference materials are used for legal research. WDTI’s close proximity to Ellsworth Air Force Base makes this school a good choice for military personnel and their families seeking to further their education or increase their career potential.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $7,280 (based on 2013-2014 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: Age 16 or above and able to benefit from the education offered; 30 WPM typing proficiency
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On Campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Introduction to Paralegalism
    • American Legal System and Constitutional Law
    • Law Office Procedure
    • Law of Business Organizations

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degrees

  • National American University (NAU)

    National American University (NAU) is a private, four-year university offering a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies that’s available on both the Rapid City and Sioux Falls campuses. Students learn substantive and procedural law, how to analyze legal issues, legal research skills, effective oral and written communication and legal ethics. Credits earned in school’s paralegal associate degree program may be counted toward this bachelor’s degree program.

    • Estimated Program Cost: $58,560; $30,149 for military students (based on 2013-2014 full-program tuition)
    • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
    • ABA Approved: Yes
    • Format: On campus

    Sample required courses:

    • Domestic Relations
    • Introduction to Legal Principles
    • Torts
    • Civil Procedure
    • Criminal Procedure

Professional Organizations

  • The South Dakota Paralegal Association (SDPA) is based in Sioux Falls, and promotes fellowship among its members, the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) and other members of the legal community. Members have access to the SDPA job bank, may attend area luncheons in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown, receive the association’s newsletter and may participate in continuing legal education events.
  • The Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association is a charter member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, and is headquartered in Denver. It represents paralegals throughout the Rocky Mountain region, serving those in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In addition to being employed by law firms, corporations and government agencies, its members volunteer and provide pro bono legal assistance in the community.

2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary data and job market trends for paralegals reflect state and national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed January 2022.

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