Subsidizing Legal Relocation

In an age where there is no shortage of attorneys in most urban areas, certain rural communities remain under-served when it comes to access to legal services. South Dakota aims to change that in their state with a new law passed in March. Under the new pilot program, South Dakota will pay up to sixteen lawyers a $12,000 subsidy per year to practice in rural areas. As part of the arrangement, the attorneys will have to work in a county with a population of 10,000 or less and make a firm five-year commitment to the program.

South Dakota recognizes a problem that other states may also face with an overwhelming proportion of their attorney population residing in urban areas while a significant portion of the population reside in rural areas. Only two percent of lawyers nationwide practice in rural areas while close to 20 percent of the population resides in such areas. Access to legal services in rural areas is an issue that lawmakers continue to confront. While it remains to be seen whether South Dakota’s approach will be successful or adopted in other states, it is clear that at least one state is taking note of the shortage of lawyers in rural communities.

Click here to read more about the need for legal relocation.

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