American Bar Association quotes UND Law Dean Kathryn Rand in its latest cover story

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News Article

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Campus Unit

John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences


"In rural America, lawyers are few and far between."

That's the quote on the cover of the current (Oct. 2014) issue of the American Bar Association's ABA Journal, which reaches just about every legal professional in the country.

The magazine looks at several rural states—including North Dakota—with rural law service challenges and local programs designed to address those challenges.

Among the programs featured in the ABA Journal's cover story by Lorelei Laird is the University of North Dakota School of Law's rural clerkship program, which is run collaboratively with the state's court system and the N.D. State Bar Association.

The legal talent shortage in rural areas like North Dakota's is real, Laird writes.

"Even in counties that had a small number of attorneys, those attorneys have been so overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done that they are turning away business,"UND Law Dean Kathryn Rand told Laird.

Rand and N.D. Judge Gail Hagerty—a UND Law alum and past president of the State Bar Association of North Dakota—drafted the "Rural Justice Proposal", now in place. Hagerty said she and many other jurists and legal professionals in the state have been concerned for a long while about the lack of attorneys in many rural North Dakota communities. The Rural Justice Proposal tackles ways to directly address the shortage of law practitioners at all levels in many rural North Dakota counties.

The ABA Journal cover story notes that this North Dakota effort is part of a focused nationwide series of rural state programs to deal head-on with the law practitioner shortage issue—which isn't about a shortage of attorneys per se but an issue of the lack of available legal services in rural communities.

The American Bar Association House of Delegates passed a resolution urging states to support efforts to "address the decline in the number of lawyers practicing in rural areas and to address access to justice issues for residents in rural America." (Resolution 10B, adopted in August, 2012)

In 2013, the South Dakota legislature passed a law that provides financial subsidies for lawyers who work in rural counties, modeled after the subsidies commonly available to health care professionals in rural areas.

"The Rural Justice Program is just the start of our efforts to ensure that all North Dakotans have access to effective and affordable legal services," said Rand. "We're looking forward to partnering with the state's attorneys and judges to continue to address this critical issue."