Friday 5: Advantages of Being a Rural Attorney

Five reasons for becoming a rural attorney from three rural Washington attorneys.

Ever fantasize about retiring to a sleepy little town on the Washington coast or a bustling wheat town on the Palouse? Why wait? Here are five reasons for becoming a rural attorney, gleaned from interviews with three rural Washington attorneys.

Community. Rural towns have a larger sense of community, as your neighbors are also likely involved in aspects of your social life. Attorneys say that smaller communities really allow you to take the time to get to know everyone. This means it’s not client 14-5632 who’s calling in again about matter number 1405632A, but Joe Smith who’s having issues with his property line again.

Location. Despite what the country “lacks” (according to urban denizens), there are some incomparable benefits to living and working outside of the big city. Sure, there might not be a Starbucks on every corner and there probably won’t be that one restaurant that changes names and owners every six months. But with clean air, a welcoming community, and the opportunity to drink in nature on a daily basis and enjoy the silence and peace of mind of rural areas, the countryside features plenty of work-life benefits over the city.

Support networks. Rural communities offer a lot to new attorneys who are seeking mentoring. While in the city, it seems everyone is moving 150 miles an hour, rural attorneys have indicated they like to sit down and walk through issues with a new attorney simply because they can make time for it. This creates an unmistakable air of collegiality. Rural attorneys say they are just as busy as their city comrades; however, there is a different emphasis on what the best use of their time is. Dedication breeds dedication, and our rural attorneys are thoroughbreds of professionalism.

Variety of law. “Country law” is assumed to be land use, family law, maybe some criminal law, and, if you’re lucky, maybe some tribal law. And some think the city has the “real” law: intellectual property law, international law, and civil rights law, to name a few. However, the law is the law, whether it’s urban or rural. You will be dealing with all varieties of problems with your clients outside of the city, sometimes in the same day, and even in different practice areas. If you like your 31 flavors of ice cream in the same bowl, then practicing in the country could be for you.

Access to justice. Rural communities need lawyers like they need rain for the harvest. When the number of Washington attorneys representing clients in our rural communities is only marginally higher than the number of attorneys who practice exclusively out-of-state, this says something about where our attorneys are most needed.


4 thoughts on “Friday 5: Advantages of Being a Rural Attorney

  1. Pingback: Rural Law Practice – An Essential Need | Oregon Law Practice Management

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  4. beverlym

    Reblogged this on Oregon Law Practice Management and commented:
    What kind of practice suits you best? The big city offers a built in client base, but it also comes with built in competition and higher overhead costs.

    You owe it to yourself to at least consider the option of a rural practice. You might be surprised that many rural attorneys enjoy better quality of life, a greater sense of community connectedness, and make more money than their city counterparts.

    The 2012 Oregon State Bar Economics of Law Practice Survey revealed that one quarter of all attorneys statewide planned to retire, cut back, or leave the practice of law by 2017. For the Oregon coast region, the number was 45% – almost half.

    We are midway through this five year period and the exodus is well under way. In December 2014 and January 2015, the Oregon State Bar processed a record number of voluntary resignations.

    Rural areas in Oregon have traditionally been under-lawyered. This is becoming more true, especially on the coast, as the attorneys who reported they would leave the profession make good on their promise. All of this is good news if you are setting up a solo or small firm, especially if you consider putting up a shingle in rural Oregon.

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