Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is East River Legal Services?

A. East River Legal Services (ERLS) is a non-profit law firm committed to providing high-quality civil legal aid to people in eastern South Dakota. Civil legal aid helps ensure fairness and equity for all in the justice system, regardless of income.

Q. Is there any charge for services?

A. There is no cost for any of the legal services provided by ERLS. However, in some instances there are court costs or other fees the client may be required to pay.

Q. Can I contact ERLS?

A. Of course! You can contact us via telephone at (605) 336-9230 or (800) 952-3015. However, please keep in mind you will need to complete an application prior to receiving any assistance.

Q. What is the eligibility criteria?

A. Eligibility for ERLS differs depending on the types of services requested. There are several factors we consider when determining eligibility. Please note, we can sometimes make exceptions to these rules. If you are unsure if you qualify for services, please fill out an application. The main eligibility criteria is:


ERLS can only accept clients with a household income within 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. In some cases, we can accept clients with a household income within 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Income is calculated based upon the gross income household earnings of the applicant and the number of people in the household. Non-exempt assets may also be considered in qualifying applicants for our services. Income must be proven prior to case acceptance. Some of our program services are not income sensitive, such as services for seniors and veterans.

Areas of Residence

To qualify for services at ERLS, you must be a resident of one of the following South Dakota counties: Aurora, Beadle, Bon Homme, Brookings, Brown, Clark, Clay, Codington, Davidson, Day, Deuel, Douglas, Edmunds, Faulk, Hamlin, Hand, Hanson, Hutchinson, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, Marshall, McCook, McPherson, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Sanborn, Spink, Turner, Union, and Yankton.

Citizenship/Immigration Status

Clients must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent legal resident (with some limited exceptions). Permanent legal residents must show their official residence card at the time of an appointment.

*ERLS’ ability to provide legal assistance is subject to change based on the availability of staff and volunteers. While an applicant may be financially eligible for our services, ERLS reserves the right to deny or limit services based on program resources, staff availability, and program priorities. 

Q. What kind of cases does ERLS handle?

A. ERLS case priorities include support for the family; preserving housing; maintaining economic stability, safety, and health; and populations with special vulnerabilities.

  • Housing Law
  • Family Law
  • Consumer Law
  • Public Benefits

We do not guarantee acceptance of any case. These case types also do not preclude acceptance of cases outside of these parameters. Cases we do not assist with include:

  • Criminal
  • Immigration
  • Personal Injury
  • Probate
  • Traffic Violations
  • Workers Compensation
  • Malpractice
  • Fee Generating Cases (Ex. Small Claims)

Q. Can I make an appointment for the same day?

A. No, we typically do not take same day appointments. In rare circumstances, we may be able to assist emergency cases in the same day.

Q. Do you take walk-in appointments?

A. No, all potential clients must complete an application prior to the intake/screening process. To complete the application, click the link below. Once an application is completed, an intake appointment is scheduled where information regarding the potential client, income, case facts, etc. are collected. Initial legal advice is then given to eligible callers. After this initial screening process, Staff Attorneys will decide whether the case should be scheduled for an appointment for (potential) additional services or referred to another agency.

Q. How can I help make a difference?

A. You can help us make a difference in several ways! We always look forward to collaborating with agencies, organizations, and individuals. Please click one of the links below for more information.

More questions? Contact us:

*Required Field
    335 N. Main Ave. Suite 200, Sioux Falls, SD 57104



    East River Legal Services

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