What does it mean to be a lawyer in a rural area? For many rural lawyers, the key distinguishing factor between practicing in rural versus urban Washington is that you’re likely one of the few lawyers in the area.
Despite a preponderance of lawyers in the United States, Washington, like some other states, has clusters of lawyers centered in urban areas while rural counties are sometimes covered by only a few lawyers—perhaps just half a dozen in private practice. This has led to problems of brain drain as long-serving lawyers ready for retirement with no one to take over their practices, which leads to populations whose legal needs are relatively underserved.
The issue of rural practice is a key focus of the WSBA. It has spurred conversations among WSBA staff and the Board of Governors. More recently, the WSBA formed the Small Town and Rural (STAR) Committee. The Committee is hard at work analyzing and forging plans to increase access to justice in rural areas and better support our rural attorneys. But who are they? What are their experiences? What do they need?
In the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, we try to shed more light on the state of the legal profession in rural Washington. The November issue features a variety of profiles on rural practitioners, focusing on three law practices in Dayton, South Bend, and Colville. And you can learn more about the history of the STAR Committee and hear from past Committee Chair Hunter Abell, along with a primer from attorney Allison R. Foreman on 10 statutes to know and understand when going into rural practice.
In the November issue, the WSBA also says goodbye to a very special colleague, Equity and Justice Lead Imani Shannon, who died on Sept. 21 in Renton. Read the memories, farewells, and kind words from WSBA staff and others in the legal community whose lives were touched by Imani.
Additionally, you can check out a spotlight on the Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Seattle (MAMAS) to learn more about this group as part of our regular profiles of minority bar associations, meet the winners of the Washington Young Lawyers Committee’s Public Service and Leadership Awards, find out what happened at the September Board of Governors meeting, and much more.