UND Law Rural Justice Program to ease Western ND Attorney Shortage

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News Article

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Campus Unit

School of Law


The western North Dakota oil boom has slowed, but a major population boom, along with a severe lack of attorneys remains.

A shortage of attorneys is a problem being experienced in rural areas across the State. However, UND’s Law School has started the “Rural Justice Program” to help solve the problem. As construction workers wrap up an 11-million dollar renovation project at UND’s School of Law, some of its students have also been busy… out of the classroom, working as interns in western North Dakota.

Kathryn Rand, Dean of UND Law School: “In 2012 we had 18 counties in the State with 2 or fewer attorneys. That’s simply not enough to meet the needs of our people.” UND Law student, Nathan Svihovec is working in the school’s “Rural Justice Program”. He’s helping an attorney in Watford City, where the oil boom has boosted the population from around 14-hundred to over 8-thousand.

Nathan Svihovec, UND Student in Watford City: “It’s extremely exciting being involved with development agreements, with the City, and just seeing the town’s growth and expansion. And the legal work you do, you feel like it’s vital to the Community and you’re actually involved in the evolution of this Community as it gioes through these changes.” Katherine Rand: “It’s meant to help them build support networks, to help them appreciate the quality of life they would enjoy in that Community, and to help them see how important it is that we place lawyers in these communities, where people need them.”

Rand says the majority of law school students join larger law firms in big cities after graduating. However, law student Nathan Svhiovec says his work with the Rural Justice Program in Watford City, has him convinced… that’s where he’ll setup his own practice after graduation. Nathan Svihovec: “Yeah, it’s definitely a very strong possibility I’ll end up back here in Watford City.”

The Rural Justice Program is made possible by a gift from the estate of Edson and Margaret Larson of Mayville. Law students are given six-thousand dollars to spend the summer working at law firms and courts in rural North Dakota.