I grew up on a family farm in southwest Minnesota, with two sisters and one brother. I graduated from Jasper High School in 1983. I started my career at Citibank in 1984. While I was employed at Citibank, I went back to college at Kilian Community College and received my Paralegal Degree, with honors, in 1992. In 1993, I started my new career as the first paralegal at the Public Defender’s Office in Sioux Falls.
As a paralegal both with the Public Defender’s Office & Jeff Larson Law, I have served as the primary investigator in criminal cases, ranging from theft to homicides. The majority of my paralegal career has been spent at the Public Defender’s Office, with a few years spent at the United States Attorney’s Office, where my main focus was in the Child Support Department. In June of 2012, I left the Public Defender’s Office and joined Jeff Larson Law. I have been married to my husband for over thirty years and we have two children, a girl and a boy.
Jeff Larson Law, LLP today at
I was born and raised in Pipestone, Minnesota and attended Willmar Area Vocational Technical School after graduation from Pipestone High School. I moved to Sioux Falls in 1981 and worked for the Court Services Department of the Unified Judicial System for 15 years. I was self-employed and worked various short-term positions until accepting a position at the Public Defender’s Office in 2005 where I remained for eight years. In May of 2013, I joined Jeff Larson Law as the Administrative Assistant.
My husband and I began dating in high school and have been married over 30 years. We have two sons. I am an avid Minnesota Vikings fan.
I was born and raised in Renner South Dakota, a small town just north of Sioux Falls. Today, I can proudly say that I learned many of the true lessons in life by taking ownership of not only my successes, but my failures as well.
I attended high school at Washington Senior High (when it was still downtown) and graduated in 1990. I spent most of my twenties working in various areas, raising my two daughters, and learning many of the lessons in life that cannot be taught in a book.
I eventually returned to more traditional studies in my thirties. In 2007, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from National American University, with a Bachelors’ degree in Paralegal Studies. From there I pursued my lifelong dream of attending Law School. In 2010, I graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law. I then went on to proudly serve as a staff attorney at the Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office until June of 2013. It was at this point that I joined Jeff Larson Law. I also currently serve on the Board of Directors for East River Legal Services and the Family Connection.
I met my wonderful husband, Bruce Fiksdal in 2003. In 2006 we were married and I joyfully accepted the additional blessing of my ‘bonus daughter’. While I cannot say that we have the traditional South Dakota family, I can say that God certainly blessed our broken road and bestowed unto us many gifts. My life experiences have taught me that families come in many sizes and shapes and every family can be perfect and wonderful in their own way.
Today, I continue to work in criminal defense and have expanded my practice into family law. I feel that my life experience, education, and commitment have prepared me to best serve people in these areas of the law. I have always felt that it is a privilege to help others with their legal problems and have a passion to ensure legal representation is accessible to all, regardless of a person’s station in life. I look forward to helping you in any way that I can.
I grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I have a large extended family, many of whom still live there. My mom and younger brother and sister also still make Aberdeen their home. While growing up, I was outspoken and rebellious. I grew into a headstrong defiant teen. I credit those years, the mistakes I made and the guidance I was given to my eventual passion for defense work. I still have an outspoken defiant streak and that comes in handy in this line of work! Aberdeen was a great town to grown up in, if you haven’t been there, I highly encourage it, especially if you have kids. Wiley Park and particularly Storybook Land are amazing!
I met my husband, Tom, while we were both working at Burger King when we were teenagers. We have been together for 22 years. We have three sons. Our oldest is a sophomore in college at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our younger two sons are in high school and middle school here in Sioux Falls.
My husband is a year older than I am and he began college first at South Dakota State University in Brookings. I worked at the Land O’ Lakes cheese factory in Volga to support us and our oldest son. I learned a lot doing factory work and that job provided for us at a time when we were young parents. Later, I reduced my hours to part-time and completed my freshman year at SDSU. After my husband graduated, we moved back home to Aberdeen where I continued my education at Northern State University. I graduated with a Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice. During these years, we also had our second and third sons.
After graduating from NSU, we moved to Beresford, South Dakota and my husband commuted to Sioux Falls for work, while I commuted to Vermillion to attend Law School at the University of South Dakota. After graduating from law school in 2008, I was lucky to be hired at my dream job, the Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office. I loved practicing criminal law and was passionate about devoting myself to providing the indigent of the community with effective defense. I eventually specialized in representing juveniles. I became active in juvenile justice issues both locally, statewide, and nationally. I have represented the defense bar on various local and state work groups. In addition, I represent South Dakota on the Midwest Juvenile Defender Center’s advisory board. Finally, I have given presentations on juvenile justice topics locally, state level, and nationally.
After deciding that I was interested in practicing more areas of law, I left the public defender’s office and joined Jeff Larson Law, LLP where I am a partner. I now continue to practice in criminal defense and juvenile law while expanding my practice to include other areas of litigation.
2013 SD Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year
I grew up on a farm in rural Lake County. After graduating from Madison High School, I went to South Dakota State University, where I graduated in 1976 with majors in political science and sociology and a minor in history. I journeyed down I-29 to attend law school at the University of South Dakota, graduating in December 1978. I have been married for thirty years to my wife, Sarah.
After three years with Dakota Plains Legal Services in Sisseton, first as a VISTA volunteer, and then a staff attorney, I moved to Sioux Falls when the Public Defender’s Office opened in 1982. After nearly thirty years as a Public Defender, twenty-two of which I served as the head of the office, I went into private practice in December, 2011, as Jeff Larson Law. It has been a privilege to hand over the reins of the office to Melissa and Angel in 2017.
Professional and community activities include: past President of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association (receiving then Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 1996); former adjunct professor of Advanced Criminal Procedure at the USD Law School; member of the South Dakota Criminal Code Revision Committee and South Dakota Equal Justice Commission; former member of the board of Family Connection and Family Service, Inc.; recipient, along with longtime paralegal Kara Duncan, of the South Dakota Outstanding Criminal Defense Lawyer in 2013.
I am proud to have devoted my career to defending people accused of criminal (or juvenile) offenses, and look forward to having the law firm continue with that as one of its missions.