The recent article in the New York Times, "No Lawyer for Miles, So One Rural State Offers Pay", put a spotlight on the ironic situation that in some parts of the U.S. there are many unemployed new attorneys while in many of our rural areas, lawyers are in very short supply. The article looks at how South Dakota is trying to recruit more rural lawyers by passing a law with incentives.
As the article points out, "Just 2 percent of small law practices are in rural areas, where nearly a fifth of the country lives, recent data show." Its a wide spread problem but the jobs are there, as many older small town attorneys retire or die.
Most law school grads are attracted to the urban areas in these mostly rural states. "In South Dakota, 65 percent of the lawyers live in four urban areas. In Georgia, 70 percent are in the Atlanta area. In Arizona, 94 percent are in the two largest counties, and in Texas, 83 percent are around Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio."
Besides state legislatures, state bar associations and law schools are attempting to attract some of these law grads who may still be unemployed, to give small town legal practice another look.
In Kansas, the state bar association is teaming with the University of Kansas and Washburn law schools to promote rural opportunities for law grads,reports the Kansas City Star .
The Times story point out that "Last year, the Iowa State Bar Association began encouraging law students to spend summers in rural areas in the hope they might put down roots. In Nebraska, the bar association organized rural bus tours for law students for the first time this year."
To help any prospective recruits to decide about opening a small town or rural practice, Bruce Cameron, a Minnesota-based solo practitioner and popular law blogger (rurallawyer.com), has written just the book they need.
"Becoming a Rural Lawyer" looks at the myths of practicing in small towns, discusses emerging areas of rural practice, talks about the rhythms and (unwritten) rules of small town life, and includes advice, tips, and words of wisdom from rural lawyers from across the US."
Becoming a Rural Lawyer is available through Amazon.com
Also check out blog posting: "5 Reasons You Shouldn't Rule Out Rural Law Practice", By Andrew Chow, JD