state bars urge attorneys toward rural law practice

Some of us muse on the pleasures of a rural law practice. And others do something about it.

I have written before (like, here) about efforts to transform underemployed lawyers into busy rural attorneys. Not to romanticize the notion, but there is something fulfilling about a law practice in which you know many residents of your community.

Around the country, many communities suffer the effects of too few attorneys to do the necessary work. And a recent story in Associations Now explored the strategy of two bar associations—in Nebraska and Iowa—that devised strategies to address the challenge.

In Nebraska, the solution is a Rural Practice Initiative. In Iowa, a committee aims to alter the dynamic. And these are just a few of the organized efforts.

Would such efforts bear fruit in Arizona? Evidence suggests our rural areas face similar challenges. Let me know what you think.

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Book Country Lawyer by Bellamy PartridgeA recent article suggested a new path that underemployed lawyers may seek to follow. It was a great read. But it also reminded me how bar magazines are often ahead of the curve—or at least laboratories of innovation.

The essay explained how new lawyers, especially, might benefit by heading out to practice in rural areas:

“[H]ere’s an interesting countervailing trend reported last year by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and NPR. There are jobs available for lawyers in many parts of rural America. In fact, in many rural areas, there is actually a shortage of attorneys.”

The excerpt comes from the terrific Attorney at Work site, and I enjoyed Roy Ginsburg’s essay.

But as much as I appreciate the coverage to the topic lent by national heady publications, a quick glance shows that state bar magazines are already crushing it.

Last September, I wrote about the concept of practicing in rural areas, and I was happy to share the coverage in Arizona Attorney and in the Oregon Bar Journal. And some bars and their publications have been touching on this important topic for years.

Still, Roy’s is a well-written argument for the value of picking up and moving to a smaller community. The more the merrier—both in rural law practice, and in terrific law practice coverage.

Have a great—and innovative—weekend.

Oregon State Bar Bulletin rural practice spread

Does rural law practice beckon? Two different bar association magazines say yes.

This week I am in Portland, Oregon, for the first time. Quite an amazing place.

I am learning and presenting at a conference of communications folks. (Here’s what I’m doing.) And I’m working hard to get out of the hotel occasionally to enjoy a terrific city. Well, whatever I do, I’ll put a bird on it. (More on that tomorrow.)

As I like to do, I point you today toward some law content connected to the place I’m visiting. And up here in the state whose motto is “She Flies With Her Own Wings” (explanations welcome), I recommend to you some work of the Oregon State Bar Association—specifically an two articles in their current Bar Bulletin.

In an article by writer Melody Finnemore, we get to hear from lawyers who are in the courtroom—as jurors. The picture they paint is not always a good one.

That ranks up there with other great story ideas I should emulate for Arizona Attorney Magazine.

You can read the complete version here. Here is the opening of the insightful article:

“Channing Bennett has seen his share of time in the courtroom, first as a litigator representing clients in civil cases and later as a volunteer judge pro tem in Marion County Circuit Court. The Salem attorney is a hearings referee for the Oregon Judicial Department. Now, he knows firsthand the emotional anguish many of his clients have experienced during a trial.”

Oregon State Bar logo“‘I’ve gained a lot of empathy for my clients going through the trial process. You feel very helpless and you get frustrated with the courts, even as an experienced observer,’ he says.”

“Bennett is one of the scores of Oregon attorneys who have been plaintiffs in a case, had to hire an attorney, been the victim of a crime or witnessed a crime, or participated in the Oregon State Bar disciplinary system. Some have experienced the state’s legal system from multiple perspectives — all from a very different place than where they are used to sitting during the legal process.”

“Like Bennett, most of the attorneys who shared their stories with the Bulletin didn’t exactly enjoy a positive experience. Yet they overwhelmingly said they learned something from it, ranging from greater empathy for clients to a broader understanding of what it means to be a good lawyer.”

Just as intriguing is their current cover story for the August/September issue. Written by Cliff Collins, it is titled “Opportunity Knocks in Rural Oregon: Small Towns Beckon Job-Seeking Lawyers.”

That was well written, but it also hit home because it reminded me immediately of an essay that resides in a recent issue of Arizona Attorney. Penned by lawyer Laura Cardinal, it makes a similar point about the good and successful life attorneys may find outside the big cities. And while you do that, the authors argue, you’ll be helping many people.

You can find Laura’s article here. Let me know what you think of both pieces.

Laura Cardinal writes on rural law practice, Arizona Attorney Magazine