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South Dakota is home to one of the lowest ratios of lawyers to residents in the country. Supporting just over 2,000 attorneys licensed to practice in the state, South Dakota maintains a comparatively small legal community. All South Dakota attorneys are required to hold active membership with the State Bar of South Dakota. As South Dakota’s regulatory body for the legal community, the State Bar of South Dakota administers the state’s bar exam and responds to ethical violations of lawyers. In its commitment to providing assistance to the attorneys in the state, the State Bar of South Dakota offers a variety of member benefits, including mentorship programs and the annual meeting. The State Bar of South Dakota also makes a great effort to help the residents of the state through various means, including free legal assistance and educational documents addressing significant legal topics. In addition to the State Bar, attorneys practicing in Rosebud Sioux Tribal Courts are required to joint the Sicangu Oyate Bar Association.
The legal community in South Dakota is also supported by a range of non-mandatory bar associations. These voluntary organizations specialize in serving either a specific practice area or a specific region or people group. South Dakota’s practice area-specific bar associations include the South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association, the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association. These associations focus on providing resources that directly assist the professional activities of their members, such as document banks and summaries of important cases. These practice-specific bar associations are also committed to advancing a sense of community among members by holding annual meetings, social gatherings, and other informational or networking events.