Big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and DC are full of attorneys and recent JD recipients working and looking for work. Demand for lawyers in these cities is diminishing as firms are already full and not looking to expand.On the other hand, there are areas of the United States looking for lawyers to fulfill their needs. But where are they?
Low income urban communities are one of the areas looking for a sufficient amount of attorneys to meet their needs. In addition, rural parts of the United States have seen extremely low numbers of attorneys across the nation. For example, there are 159 counties in the state of Georgia; roughly 6 of them do not have lawyers, and 40 of the counties have 10 or less lawyers available to service clients. In addition, on the 93 counties in Nebraska, 12 of them do not have lawyers. Overall, roughly 20% of the United States population lives in an area that has little to no access to a legal professional.
Luckily, the American Bar Association and various state bars are working to tackle this problem. One way is by offering incentives to attorneys who choose to work in these areas. South Dakota made a “Rural Attorney Recruitment Program”, where they offer young, aspiring attorneys $12,000 per year for 5 years to those who work in a qualifying county with 10,000 people or less.
Over the years, North Dakota has seen a boom in its oil industry. As a result, they have seen a shortage in the number of attorneys available to work for the oil company clients. Since then, the state’s bar association has started a clerkship recruiting program to help match law students with state judges in rural areas.
In order to deal with the lack of attorneys in certain areas, the ABA has launched the Legal Access Job Corps. The corps has since funded projects in multiple states, like Vermont, Nebraska, and Arkansas, in order to increase the access to legal services in rural towns. Similar projects are going to be launched in New York, Georgia and Montana as well to end the attorney disparities.
When planning on starting or changing your legal career, try looking into less populated towns rather than big cities where lawyers are abundant. You may be able to find a position faster and easier. In addition, you will be helping the many people in rural areas who are in need of legal services.