In one state’s search for an answer to provide local attorneys for their residents throughout all of their counties, recruiting local talent to return as local attorneys is a high priority.
A December 28, 2016, report on National Public Radio indicted that if you are looking for a family law attorney, a criminal defense lawyer, or any kind of attorney for that matter, you may have to do some traveling. Currently, in the state of Nebraska, 11 different counties do not have even one lawyer. In an attempt to remedy this situation, the local law schools are finding various ways to recruit local high school students into becoming local attorneys. Domestic violence statistics prove that no part of the country is immune to this dangerous family statistic. Unfortunately, if you live in one of the 11 Nebraska counties without a lawyer you may have a significant barrier to justice even if you are in danger.
Nebraska, however, is not alone when it comes to the lack of lawyers in rural America. In fact, many states are working to remedy this same problem. And while it may initially seem like the lack of local lawyers is a perfect set up for a comedy sketch, the reality is far from funny. Lack of local legal advice, in fact, translates into expensive milage charges for families that do need legal representation, and it also translates into other problems as well.
Local Brain Drain Strikes Again!
National news stories have long reported that some small towns and midwestern cities suffer from local brain drain and find themselves short of many professionals, including doctors, dentists, and sometimes accountants. The recent increase in the number of underserved communities when it comes to legal advice, however, is making the news across the nation. Some states have gotten to the point where they are offering stipends to law interns who will serve their time in underserved areas. Other states, like Nebraska, offer free tuition to residents from small counties that do not have any legal staffing.
Although none of these programs are requiring the free tuition students to return to their home towns, some new graduates see the offer as a win won situation. With fewer college loans to pay off after graduation, these new, young lawyers find themselves very busy in communities that otherwise have no local attorneys.
The lack of lawyers not only makes legal advice and service more financially expensive, without a local attorney, offenders are often left with records that they otherwise could avoid. Without a local defender to represent them, some young offenders may find themselves taking a guilty plea agreement when otherwise a legal representative may have been able to provide other counsel, leaving a record clean. When you realize the DUI consequences in many states, trying to defend yourself without an attorney can create a result and a record that will last a lifetime. Given that more than 1.4 million people are arrested each year for DUI first offense, it only makes sense that experienced lawyers may be able to spot the weakness in some charges. A small town youth who has no affordable access to a local attorney, however, will never benefit from this advice.
Have You Considered a Legal Career?
Many small town high school students cannot wait to get out of town. In an effort to access an affordable career, however, some college students may actually find themselves anxious to return to their small town roots. Armed with an affordable law degree that may have been partially funded by a no tuition undergraduate degree and an automatic admission into law school, some graduates may realize that they appreciate the opportunity to try a variety of cases.
Law school graduates weighed down by student loans find themselves working for large law firms as nothing more than glorified law clerks. In a location with no lawyers, however, young law graduates can find themselves trying a variety of cases and facing no competition for finding clients. Whether you want to get an elder abuse restraining order to protect an abused or threatened person over the age of 65 or a young driver who made a mistake, you will find your purpose in a small community.