It seems that, thanks to HB 1096 South Dakota’s attempt at rural lawyer recruitment is riding high in the press and the blogosphere. Seems that everyone from the New York Times to the ABA Journal are reporting on it. Even Above the Law is throwing their two cents in.
The various responses seem to be a mixed bag, which is to be expected; after all at first glance $12,000 yearly stipend for a 5 year term in a rural county (and in South Dakota, rural is rural) seems like a poor trade. But, this really isn’t designed to recruit just any lawyer, it is designed to encourage South Dakota grown young lawyers to head out to those under-served counties. While $12,000 does not seem like a terribly large incentive, at the end of 5 years, that $60,000 could make a serious dent in one’s student loans.
Nor is does this seem to be an attempt to reformulate legal education along the lines of medical school. It does seem to be taking an idea from a program that works (seems its harder to get doctors to practice in rural communities then it is to get lawyers out there) in order to address at least one concern (how do I pay my loans) new lawyers have about heading out on their own.