Ol’ Virgil (the roman poet, not my local mechanic) sure had it right, since my last post, a great deal of time has escaped, irretrievably; a consequence of too many commitments and an inability to say no as often as I should. So, what I failed to note during the last quarter of 2014.
In December, the AP ran a story on the various efforts currently under way to attract lawyers to practice in rural areas. The focus of the story is on South Dakota, but programs in Nebraska and Arkansas get a brief mention as well. It’s great to hear that programs like the one in South Dakota are starting to produce results.
From the University of St. Thomas Law School, comes word of a law student’s discovery of the joys of small town practice. Ms. Price paint’s a great picture of the pros of clerking in a small town and how practicing in a small town is more of a labor of love than anything else.
Then there’s the flip side to all this – as Danielle Paquette reports, the lack of incoming rural lawyers means that the existing rural bar is delaying retirement and many rural clients are looking at two hour drives just to talk with a lawyer. In Nebraska, 12 counties have no lawyers and the Nebraska Bar Association along with the Nebraska Legislature is trying to do something about it. Their solution is twofold – a Rural Practice Loan Repayment Assistance Program and a better sales pitch – seems no one is telling law students about the opportunities that exist.
A tip of the hat to Justice Thomas G. Saylor – he started out as a small town lawyer and is now the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Well, there was the odd gig as a county prosecutor, a deputy AG, and Supreme Court Justice along the way, but still not bad for starting out in rural Pennsylvania (see story here).
I’ll also note the passing of John Doar, a small town lawyer who died last November at the age of 92. Mr. Doar began his career in the small town of New Richmond, WI before moving on to the Justice Department and then to a New York law firm. In the 1960’s, Mr Doar helped shape the civil rights movement, as an assistant attorney general, he was the prosecutor in US v. Cecil Price et al. and he escorted James Meredith when Mr. Meredith became the first black student to enroll in the University of Mississippi. Mr. Doar was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.