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Our Story

WORKS (Working Out Resolutions for KidS), developed in 2017 by the Second Circuit and the SD State Bar Association ADR Committee, under the leadership of Attorney and Mediator Mike McKnight and now Retired Presiding Judge Larry Long, initially offered free assistance to self-represented individuals and couples in Minnehaha County filing for divorce with children. The program continued to expand with Presiding Judge Robin Houwman and Judge Douglas Hoffman, leading a 2nd Judicial Circuit steering committee comprised of court staff, attorneys and state bar representation. Similarly, the 7th Judicial Circuit, under the leadership of Presiding Judge Craig Pfeifle, created a program to assist self-represented individuals going through divorce in Pennington County.

Beginning in January 2020, the WORKS clinic coordinated with the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law to expand and improve the efficiency and reach of the program in order to assist more participants. Today, the law school offers a 2-credit hour practicum, taught by Marilyn Trefz,  to provide law students with experience in family law and client relations.


Since its inception, the clinic has expanded to include helping individuals in the entire state of South Dakota. Additionally, the Clinic now assists self-represented divorce litigants with and without children, as well as individuals going through custody and parenting time matters when a judge orders mediation.

Family Portrait


Assists eligible self-represented litigants to achieve access to courts and efficiently conclude divorce and custody proceedings.


Improves congestion of courts and allows judges more time to focus on cases that require judicial resolution. 

Judge and Gavel
Library Study Group


Trains law students in family law, alternative dispute resolution and client relations. Students can participate in the WORKS clinic practicum for experiential learning credits and to earn pro-bono service hours.

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