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South Dakota Paralegal Career Guide

Our career guide is designed to help you learn how to become a paralegal in South Dakota. On this page, you will find information on South Dakota paralegal salary, job outlook, and resources that will help you launch your paralegal career. Get started using the easy-to-navigate directory below.

Table of Contents:
Paralegal Careers
Job Outlook in South Dakota
Salary Outlook
Salary by Metro Area
Paralegal Certification
Certification in South Dakota
Career Quick Start Tips – How to Become a Paralegal in South Dakota
Additional Paralegal Resources
South Dakota Paralegal Career Books
Paralegal Job Search Websites
South Dakota State Court Info
Law Libraries in South Dakota
Paralegal Associations in South Dakota

Paralegal Careers

Paralegals and legal assistants may find employment in a variety of legal settings. Large law firms generally require the greatest degree of paralegal support while offering the most competitive benefits. Paralegals employed in large firms are often assigned to work in specific legal areas, giving individuals the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of law. Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons LLP is a strong regional law firm with offices in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. With practice areas including business law, criminal law, estate planning, and litigation, Bangs McCullen may have good opportunities for recently graduated paralegals and legal assistants. Based in Sioux Falls, Davenport Evans Hurwitz & Smith is another of South Dakota’s oldest and largest firms. Davenport Evans practices in virtually every area of law. Mid-sized and small firms also offer good opportunities for recently certified paralegals. These firms may supply a more general introduction to the field and foster a more intimate work environment.

Though private law firms continue to post the majority of paralegal jobs in South Dakota, corporations are steadily increasing their dependence on paralegal support staff. Major companies in South Dakota include Avera Health, First Premier Bank, and Black Hills Corporation. These positions offer paralegals the opportunity to explore areas such as liability law, business law, and corporate litigation. Government agencies, banks, and insurance groups throughout the area may also provide South Dakota paralegal jobs.

Job Outlook in South Dakota

Projected Job Growth

19.9%

Paralegals in South Dakota from 2016-20261

In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 410 paralegals and legal assistants employed throughout South Dakota.2 As law firms attempt to minimize the expense of providing legal services, paralegal and legal assistant employment levels are expected to rise, as tasks previously allocated to attorneys shift to less expensive paralegal labor. Corporations may follow a similar trend by increasing reliance on internal legal departments rather than referring to more expensive outside counsel. Based on these trends, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% employment growth for paralegals and legal assistants nationwide from 2016 to 2026.3 This projected growth in employment is higher than the comparable projections for the average of all occupations (7%) and the average of all other law-related occupations (11%).3 Similar growth is projected for paralegal jobs in South Dakota, at 19.9% from 2016 to 2026.1

South Dakota Paralegal Salary Outlook

The average paralegal salary in South Dakota was reported at $46,220 in 2017.2 Though this wage is lower than the national median wage for paralegals and legal assistants at $53,910, it is comparable to the average paralegal wage in nearby states.2 The nationwide expansion of the paralegal field suggests that South Dakota paralegal jobs will be available for paralegal graduates in a variety of work settings, particularly in urban areas. Increased reliance on paralegal labor may also serve to raise the average paralegal salary in South Dakota. In addition, well-qualified applicants will be positioned to compete for higher salary offers.

South Dakota Paralegal Salary Info By Metro Area

A quick look at South Dakota paralegal salary by metro area:

Metro AreaNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Rapid CityN/A$40,370
Sioux City IA-NE-SD120$43,250
Sioux FallsN/A$50,160

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.4

Paralegal Certification in South Dakota

South Dakota is one of few states to require minimum education and experience guidelines for paralegals, though there is no formal South Dakota paralegal certification program. You can read more about the guidelines for South Dakota paralegal certification below. The most common route to a legal support career in the state involves completing study at one of the paralegal schools in South Dakota. Currently, the American Bar Association (ABA) has not approved any not-for-profit South Dakota paralegal programs. However, employers within the state do tend to prefer candidates who have at least an associate’s degree from one of the available not-for-profit programs within the state.

Curriculums at paralegal schools in South Dakota generally include an introduction to substantive legal areas as well as practical instruction in legal and professional skills such as legal research, writing, and technology use. Upon completion of a paralegal degree program, individuals are encouraged to seek voluntary national certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) or the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Voluntary certification examinations are designed to establish a consistent level of professional competency for paralegals nationwide. Paralegals and legal assistants in South Dakota may also seek educational and career guidance from the South Dakota paralegal associations listed below.

South Dakota Certification

Under Statute 16-18-34.1, established by South Dakota Supreme Court Rule 97-25, prospective paralegals within the state must meet education and experience requirements to hold themselves out as paralegals. Though these minimum standards accommodate several types of paralegal education and work experience, the most common route to paralegal employment is the completion of one of the South Dakota paralegal programs. Candidates may also meet South Dakota paralegal certification requirements by holding a bachelor’s degree in any field supplemented by six months of in-house paralegal training, or by completing two to three years of in-house training and experience as a legal assistant. Candidates are encouraged to consult the relevant state statutes and state paralegal associations for further information on South Dakota paralegal certification guidelines.

Career Quick Start Tips — How to Become a Paralegal in South Dakota

South Dakota’s minimum qualification standards offer several routes to South Dakota paralegal certification and should be reviewed before pursuing a paralegal education. That said, the job market for paralegals and legal assistants in South Dakota is projected to be positive for the coming years. The most competitive applicants for paralegal positions in the state will possess a combination of formal education, experience, and voluntary national certification. You can find out more about typical requirements for South Dakota paralegal jobs on our jobs board. You can also learn more about national certification on our guide Steps to Become a Paralegal.

Paralegal Resources

Paralegals play a critical role in supporting the success of the firms for which they work. Part of this success is based on providing the right resources at the right time. The following South Dakota paralegal career resources can help you get your career off to a strong start.

South Dakota Paralegal Career Books

  • Legal Research Explained – Legal research is a fundamental skill and one that paralegals must master to become successful. This condensed text provides paralegals with a primer and ongoing reference for efficient legal research strategies and processes, beginning with print sources before moving to electronic and secondary sources. The text also covers common legal citation forms.
  • South Dakota Criminal and Traffic Law Manual – Criminal and traffic law are two major areas of practice for paralegals. Those working in these areas of law must know the basics of South Dakota’s statutes and rules, which are provided in this annotated reference. This text is updated annually and is published by LexisNexis.

Paralegal Job Search Websites for South Dakota

South Dakota Court Info

  • UJS.SD.gov – The South Dakota Unified Judicial System provides a one-stop website for all courts within the state. Visitors can access links to court rules, forms, and news as well as e-filing systems. Also provided are links to legal research sources.

Law Libraries in South Dakota

  • South Dakota Second Circuit Law Library – Located in Sioux Falls and also known as the Minnehaha County Law Library, this library is open to the general public during court business hours. The library provides public access to electronic legal research materials as well as print volumes focused on South Dakota and American law.
  • University of South Dakota Law Library – The University of South Dakota Law Library is located in Vermillion. The library is open to the public and houses over 200,000 print volumes. South Dakota registered attorneys may apply for a borrowing account for circulating materials, which can be delivered by mail for approved distance users.

Paralegal Associations in South Dakota

  • South Dakota Paralegal Association – Founded in 1989, the South Dakota Paralegal Association is an affiliate of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) that seeks to promote the paralegal profession and the professional development of its members. Association meetings are held monthly in cities throughout the state. Annual dues are $55 for active members, $30 for associate members, and $15 for student members.

References:
1. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Paralegals and Legal Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-5
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
5. American Bar Association: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/paralegals/paralegal-resource-directory/