About Our Team

"Be true to your work, your word and your friends." — Henry David Thoreau

At Jeff Larson Law, LLP, our attorneys operate under simple truths of straightforward legal advocacy to make our community a better place.

We are a small but efficient law firm with compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys who each use their life experience, both in and out of the courtroom, to provide high-quality client-centered legal services and representation to our clients.

Learn more about our attorneys and staff at the links given below.

Melissa Fiksdal

Attorney

Melissa Fiksdal

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.

Angel Runnels

Attorney

Angel Runnels

I grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota. I was blessed with a large extended family, many of whom still live there. While growing up, I was outspoken, headstrong and rebellious. I credit those years, the mistakes I made and the guidance I was given to my eventual passion for defense 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, when we were teenagers. We both worked at Burger King in Aberdeen. We have been together for 23 years. We have three sons. Our oldest is a junior at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Our younger two sons are in high 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 at the factory about physical and mental endurance and working with a team. That job was a dream come true, because I was able to provide for my family at a time when we were young parents and my husband was focused on working toward his degree. 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 worked summers at a local floral, nursery and landscaping business throughout my college years in Aberdeen. I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in sociology and criminal justice. While in school, I tutored students in many of the school's criminal justice classes. I was also active in organizations on campus that volunteered in the community and competed at a national level in Mediation and Mock Trial. 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. 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. Those years gave me a solid foundation of experience in virtually every area of criminal defense. I eventually focused my practice in representing juveniles. I became active in juvenile justice issues locally, statewide and nationally. Additionally, I was appointed by the Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to serve on various local and state juvenile justice workgroups. Finally, I have given presentations on juvenile justice topics locally, at the state level and nationally.

Eventually, I decided that while criminal defense would always be my passion, I was interested in other areas of law. I left the public defender's office and joined Jeff Larson Law, LLP, where I am a partner. I now practice in multiple areas of the law in many counties and also in federal court. I love my firm family; we are a wonderful team. I know that I am very lucky to have a career in which I am happy and fulfilled.

Jeff Larson

Of Counsel

Jeff Larson

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 35 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 30 years as a Public Defender, 22 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 I look forward to having the law firm continue with that as one of its missions.

Kara Duncan

Paralegal

Kara Duncan

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 and 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 30 years and we have two children, a girl and a boy.

Teri Appeldorn

Administrative Assistant

Teri Appeldorn

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 in 2005 at the Public Defender's Office, 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.

We Can Help You Move Forward Through Your Struggle

Sometimes there is no escaping a challenging outcome or the stress life comes up with. We make every effort to strategize with you to fight for your interests and protect all your constitutional rights no matter the battle you face.

Our attorneys care deeply about helping you and will respectfully provide an honest assessment of your case. Hearing the truth is not always easy, but it is key to effectively resolving your legal matter.

When you call us, you will speak with Teri Appeldorn, who is our office administrator. In addition to our attorneys, you will also interact with, Kara Duncan, the paralegal in our office.

Jeff Larson Law, LLP, serves clients in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the surrounding communities, including Flandreau in Moody County, and Madison in Lake County, as well as Brookings, McCook, Turner and Lincoln counties.

Call 605-679-6352 today to speak with an experienced attorney. If you prefer, you may fill in our online form to tell us about your situation.