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Chief Defender - Office of Indigent Legal Services

Chief Defender - Office of Indigent Legal Services

Job ID: 27069
Agency: Office of Indigent Legal Services
Salary: $130,000 - $180,000/annually, commensurate with experience
Pay Grade: L4
Closing Date: Open Until Filled, with resume review to begin on 6/17/24

We are seeking qualified applicants to fill the role of Chief Defender within the Office of Indigent Legal Services. This position and office is newly created under the authority and guidance of HB 1057 which created the commission that will oversee the work of this office.

The Chief Defender leads and directs the work of a team of public defense professionals to provide statewide indigent representation services in direct appeals in criminal cases, habeas corpus appeals, and abuse and neglect of child appeal cases or other services as determined by the Commission pursuant to creation by HB 1057. The Chief Defender provides direction and guidance in strategic operations and planning for the Office of Indigent Legal Services as well as performing highly advanced managerial work.

Daily work will vary widely and may include budget planning and management, policy monitoring and review, publications, communications planning, legislative affairs, data collection, strategic planning, staff supervision and coaching, policy creation and development, board meeting planning, and more. The successful incumbent will work under minimal supervision, with extensive latitude for the use of initiative and independent judgment. Official location will be discussed and ultimately determined at the discretion of the Commission.

Responsibilities include:

  • Leading the department in the planning, development, coordination, and implementation of the Office of Indigent Legal Services policies, procedures, goals, and objectives. Provide direction for the department through strategic short and long-term goal setting and planning. Direct the department's policies, procedures, and administration to ensure compliance with applicable ordinances and laws.
  • Collaborating with the County public defender offices, county and state officials, judges, lawyers, and community members.
  • Representing the Office of Indigent Legal Services at public, private, and inter-governmental programs, and events. Communicate with the media. Attend meetings and trainings. Keep current on changes in law and statutes.
  • Directly responsible for operations, budget management, legislation, staffing, and progress of the Office of Indigent Legal Services.
  • Performing legal research and writing. Draft, prepare, and file legal documents and correspondence. Confer with state’s attorneys, judges, court personnel, jail personnel, staff, and other agencies and personnel.

Licenses and Certifications:
Applicants must have a J.D. and license to practice law in the State of South Dakota, or ability to obtain licensure prior to employment.

The Ideal Candidate Will Have:

  • at least 5 years of experience in public defense;
  • knowledge of South Dakota criminal law, justice proceedings, and court practices;
  • leadership experience and the ability develop and mentor others;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • ability to build collaborative relationships;
  • ability to present to a variety of audiences to include but not limited to, government officials, judges, University classes and other legal teams; and,
  • ability to influence others.

Additional Requirements: To be considered, please attach your resume.

This position is exempt from the Civil Service Act.

Successful applicant(s) will be required to undergo a background investigation. An arrest/conviction record will not necessarily bar employment.

The State of South Dakota does not sponsor work visas for new or existing employees. All persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and complete an Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9. The State of South Dakota as an employer will be using E-Verify to complete employment eligibility verification upon hire.

The State of South Dakota offers $0 premium employee health insurance option plus eleven paid holidays, generous vacation and sick leave accrual, dental, vision, and other insurance options, and retirement benefits. You can view our benefits information at This position is a member of Class A retirement under SDRS.

Must apply online:
You must apply online, emailed resumes or submissions will not be accepted.
South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources
Telephone: 605.773.3148 Email:
"An Equal Opportunity Employer"

Additional Info

Job Type : Full-Time

Education Level : Doctoral

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