In this month’s Canadian Lawyer, Bruce LeRose has an excellent article on the ongoing demise of rural lawyers in British Columbia and the steps the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association is taking to try to encourage new lawyers to take on the challenges of rural practice. Mr. LeRose points out two of the more serious factors contributing to the demise of the species: the march toward specialization (small towns simply don’t have the work to support the boutique lawyer – it’s breadth not depth that pays the bills) and the closure of small town courts (a problem that is rapidly marching toward my neck of the woods as the legislature’s economic priorities don’t include a fully funded judiciary). But for all the doom and gloom, there is hope.
The bright spot is that the B.C. Bar’s Rural Education and Access Program (REAL). Thanks to REAL, rural law firms are starting to hire new staff and about a third of those new hires are students or new lawyers. Through REAL, students are being introduced to rural law firms, the advantages of rural practice (networking is easier, overhead is lower, and success comes quickly through hard work and passion), and the personal benefits of small town living (an improved work-life balance, a family friendly supportive environment).
To read the full text of the article, click here.