So Owl wrote…and this is what he wrote: HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY. Pooh looked on admiringly. “I’m just saying ‘A Happy Birthday,’” said Owl carelessly. – A. A. Milne
October has swept all most all of her color from the trees and Rural Lawyer now turns 3; which in technological terms is early middle age (at least by Moore’s law standards). One would think that this momentous occasion would be marked by public fanfare and wild acclaim, but alas the world has continued with nary a pause, blithely unaware.
On to other things –
Macleans.ca reports that British Columbia has opened a new law school (the first in 30 years) with the mission of addressing British Columbia’s rural lawyer shortage. The article reports that British Columbia Chief Justice Lance Finch has suggested that the bar will need to double admissions to meet the demand for lawyers. The article notes that the lawyer shortage does not extend to metropolitan Canada.
It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. -- P. D. James
Once again, the rural clock has cycled back to the season of hurry-up when shortened days and the chill of night (those sure harbingers of winter) tell us that it is time to finish up the harvest chores while it is still possible to work outside without wearing insulated garments. So, farmstead maintenance has taken priority over the weekly posting and temporarily damped the blogging muse – it appears that scrubbing a season’s worth of dust, oil, and grease from heavy equipment does not lend itself to the same contemplative frame of mind that driving said equipment slow over a field does. Given that inspiration and originality appear to be temporarily on hiatus, here are a few items from across the web that caught my eye:
- Debra Bruce gives a small plug for considering small town practice on the Solo Practice University‘s blog in her post “Deciding Where to Locate Your Law Practice, Part 2.” Have to admit that Debra sums up paradox of small towns pretty well – collegial and welcoming once they know you, closed and standoffish when they don’t. The trick is to be collegial and welcoming first – make that first effort to get to know the town, ’cause if you wait for the town it’s gonna take a while.
- BYU honors Elder Steven E. Snow for his 30 year career as a small town lawyer. His law firm may have merged with an up scale metropolitan firm in 2003, if you’ve ever been paid in quits, produce or trampolines you’re a rural lawyer. Congratulations Elder Snow.
- The South Dakota Bar appears to be pleasantly surprised about the power of social media, especially when it comes to their Project Rural Practice initiative. South Dakota Bar Association President Pat Goetzinger comments on the relevance of social media in his October message “Social Media – Is it great? OR Does it grate?.”
Remember: National Pro Bono Week is October 23-29 – “The public service we render is the rent we pay for a place on this earth” — Steven Snow
This is not a post about always asking for a retainer up front or why you should take credit cards (both boffo ideas in their own right). This is not about managing accounts receivable, setting rates, or getting reticent clients to make good on their debts. This is not about how you should handle the occasional request to barter for your services (if the suggestion involves livestock, it is always better to ask that for it to be delivered wrapped and frozen and not walking and mooing).
I have a colleague who describes his research as falling into two categories: the stuff he does for DARPA (which pays the bills) and the stuff he does to make his mother proud. Which, in a way, is a good summation as to why I do the odd bit of pro bono work.
Aspirational goals aside, there is little upside for the rural lawyer to do pro bono – there is no great PR bump (there is an expectation in rural communities that neighbors look out for each other & the definition of neighbor is quite expansive) and there is certainly little return on the investment outside of that smile, those tears, that look of relief that comes when the client realizes that there is someone there to help shoulder the load. It’s not a payment you can take to the bank, but it has its own inestimable worth.
Remember: National Pro Bono Week is October 23-29 – go make mom proud.