April 27, 2009
Spring has come to this rural practice and with it brings the ritual and renewal that is spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is that biannual event, not quite unlike a wiccan sabbat, where one marks the turning of the seasons with some sort of great occasion. The tedious eviction of the accumulated detritus of the past six months may to give way to some great bacchanalia but it does provide for a certain amount of contemplation and reflection.
Some years back, on one of these April days where the weather was too good to work inside, but not quite good enough to work out in the yard or in the fields, I found myself lying half way into the manger of my horse trailer attempting to rivet a metal patch in place. (more…)
April 23, 2009
Posted by Bruce under Rural Practice
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Great, we need more lawyers out here in the wilds of rural America, but before you go trading in your Ferragamo’s for a set of gumboots, there are some things you need to consider.
First, the general expectation is going to be that as the “new kid” you’re going to have to adapt to the community and its ways. After all, they were there first and, for the most part, like things the way they are just fine thank you. But don’t worry, the new wears off in time, typically 2 to 3 generations unless you do something so spectacularly beyond community expectations that everyone in the community takes notice. The latter typically earns you a nickname that in some way commemorates the event. Until then, get used to referring to your house as the “Ol’ Jones’ Place” and direct people to your office by telling them you’ve set up in the “Mercantile”
April 20, 2009
According to the US Census Bureau, a rural “place” is any territory, population, and housing unit not classified as urban unless designated as an extended city. In other words, it’s any place with fewer than 2500 occupants located outside of a continuously built-up area with a population of 50,000 or more. So, one definition of a rural lawyer would be an attorney working in a place with fewer than 2500 occupants. The ABA is more generous with its definition, considering any area with a population of less than 50,000 as rural. The ABA does note that the definition of “rural area” varies across the US so what might be rural in Vermont could well be an densely populated area in Alaska. Thus the ABA’s rural lawyer is one who works outside of a high-density population center.
What these precise, sterile definitions tell us is that out beyond suburbia’s sprawl lies the rural lawyer and if you look at the numbers there are precious few of them. Those that are not solos tend to cluster in small firms where there is often a familial relationship between the attorneys. This is terra incognita for big law firms. (more…)
April 16, 2009
Ask a pilot “why do you fly?” and you will get a variety of responses, but never a good answer. It is not impossible for the pilot to provide a good answer, it is just that the questioner would not understand the answer. Some where at some time the pilot looked skyward and felt a connection, a desire, a goal and from that moment of crystal clear epiphany knew, just knew. The good, simple, and true answer is “because”.
- I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must come out; that is the reason why I compose. — Ludwig van Beethoven
I was recently asked a similar question. I was asked “why did you go into a rural practice?”, and, like the pilot, found the answer to be difficult to elaborate.
Perhaps the reason I am a rural lawyer is simply that friends and neighbors asked. It is a fact of small town life that gossip travels faster than the internet, so it was not surprising that soon after I was accepted to law school my neighbors began asking me what is was going to do after law school. Naturally I would expound on my future plans much to the dismay of my questioner (if their rapidly dulling eyes were any indicator). Once I had finished and my questioner had regained the power of thought, their ending comment was invariably “well ya know, there hasn’t been an lawyer in town since ol’ Bob Smith retired (circa 1960), sure could use one”. I may be slow on the uptake, but these hints weren’t all that subtle. (more…)
April 13, 2009
Posted by Bruce under Ramblings
, Rural Practice
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The old saw says there are two season in Minnesota; winter and road construction. For the rural community, life revolves around the seasons of planting, growing, harvest, and equipment repair and for the rural lawyer, these rhythms influence the rhythms of our practice.
The start of planting season is heralded by warming temperatures, the deep-throaty grumbled of diesel engines, the odor of freshly manured fields and the client calls asking for appointments :”after second cutting” or “when the corn’s in” or “once the oats are in”. I should note that these times are not as nebulous as they sound at first; they are just part of the rhythms of the harvest season and coincide with peaks in clients’ income streams. (more…)
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