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American Bar Association
Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs

University of South Dakota School of Law

University of South Dakota
University of South Dakota School of Law
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
www.usd.edu/law

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Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Thomas L. Sorensen
Associate Dean
tom.sorensen@usd.edu
(605) 677-5393

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Category Type

Independent Student Pro Bono Group Projects with no school-wide program

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Description of Program

USD Law School Pro Bono Consortium

The University of South Dakota School of Law offers substantial opportunities for students to participate in pro bono activities through various organizations. ACCESS TO JUSTICE (A2J), the pro bono program of the State Bar of South Dakota, has expanded its pro bono lists of attorneys and students to work with them in providing legal services to the public in the state. A2J also hires an AmeriCorps Fellow, who is provided office space at the USD School of Law in Vermillion, S.D., to work with student volunteers.

The R.D. Hurd Volunteer Law School Society, established by the 2nd Circuit Bar of South Dakota, has given law students regular opportunities to provide pro bono legal services to low-income persons. Students work under the supervision of attorneys at East River Legal Services in Sioux Falls, S.D., mainly helping divorce clients.

The Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office in Sioux Falls, In coordination with the USD School of Law and Access to Justice, established the Law School Defender Project. The students are selected each semester to participate by working 4-8 hours per week under the supervision of individually assigned attorneys in the Sioux Falls office and on behalf of the Public Defender's Office, often on juvenile matters and A&N’s.

Law students also actively work with the local Domestic Violence Legal Program, a pro bono organization primarily providing services to victims of domestic violence, such as assisting in ex parte protection orders and actions for permanent protection orders. There are also opportunities to conduct research for community attorneys. The Domestic Violence Legal Program works closely with the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and the South Dakota Bar pro bono coordinator in the Access To Justice Program.

A tax-service activity involving law-student services is the Voluntary Income Tax Assistance VITA) program, which for many years, the USD School of Law has been involved by helping the local community prepare tax forms by properly supervised and trained volunteers. The help sessions are held “at tax time” downtown at the Vermillion Public Library.

Law students also find pro bono opportunities through other student organizations getting involved in public service, including Women In Law (WIL), law fraternities, Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and the Public Interest Law Group (which helps provide support donated through fund-raising activities to help students pay travel expenses while working pro bono ).

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Location of Program

USD School of Law

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Staffing/Management/Oversight

Each individual group is made up of student volunteer, with budget oversight by Dean’s Office.

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Funding

Limited funding is provided through the Law School Foundation to student organizations which annually submit funding requests to the Dean.

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Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

R.D. Hurd Volunteer Law School Society - Second- and third-year law students have the opportunity to provide pro bono legal services to low-income persons in collaboration with East River Legal Services and Dakota Plains Legal Services. The students interview selected clients off-campus at Legal Services locations, perform research, prepare documents and, in some instances, make court appearances. Students are assigned an attorney supervisor who offers assistance to the students throughout the cases. All law students have an opportunity to perform client intake at the Law School through the use of telephone and specialized intake software. Students can then conference via polycom units with Legal Services attorneys on the issues presented by the client.

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Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

Members of the faculty serve as advisors to the various student organizations that offer pro bono opportunities, such as IPSD, Women In Law, Domestic Violence Program, PIN, and VITA, and NALSA, in addition to projects or other service on Bar committees and with the ABA or other organizations.

Professor Thomas Earl Geu has been working on setting up a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation on a pro bono basis.

In 2006, Professor Baron worked closely with ATLA and other groups by providing pro bono assistance to Congress in its work on the 2006 Pension Reform Act as its provisions impacted ERISA reimbursement actions. He estimates that he devotes about two hours per week doing pro bono work for similar or subrogation/ERISA-related cases. As the family law professor as well, Baron continues spending a lot of pro bono time on help in family law cases.

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Awards/Recognition

The State Bar of South Dakota created and now presents during its annual meeting the William F. Day, Jr., Pro Bono Award, which in 2010 was presented to law student Andrea Rosenburg of Buffalo, NY.

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Community Service

In addition to student assistance described above, members of the USD School of Law administration, faculty, and staff are actively involved in a number of community organizations that provide pro bono service.

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Law School Public Interest Programs

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Contact Information

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Certificate/Curriculum Programs

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Public Interest Centers

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Public Interest Clinics

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Externships/Internships

Career Services/Internships: Assistant Dean Angela Ericson, angela.ericson@usd.edu, (605) 677-6356; Externship Education Program Director: Associate Dean Thomas L. Sorensen, tom.sorensen@usd.edu, (605) 677-5393.

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Classes with a Public Service Component

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Public Interest Journals

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Public Interest Career Assistance

Angela Ericson
Assistant Dean
angela.ericson@usd.edu
605-677-6356

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Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

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Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Graduate Student Funded:

Other Funding Sources:

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Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

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Student Public Interest Groups

Women In Law (WIL)

Law Fraternities

Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)

Black Law Students Association (BLSA)

Public Interest Law Group (helps provide support donated through fund-raising activities to help students pay travel expenses while working pro bono )

Updated: 8/6/2013

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