Rural Practice Fellowship Program

As the only statewide general bar association in Illinois, the ISBA is working to address the shortage of attorneys in rural areas of Illinois. The ISBA’s Rural Practice Fellowship Program is designed to connect rural and small town law firms looking for law clerks and associates with law students and attorneys interested in practicing law in rural communities in Illinois.

The deadline for applications for the 2024-25 Rural Practice Fellowship Program has passed.

Thank you to everyone helping to support this program!

Illinois Faces a Shortage of Rural Attorneys

Many Illinois counties have no more than two or three lawyers—and many of these are approaching retirement with no prospect of younger attorneys to take their place. Because of the cost of law school, younger lawyers are not able to afford to start practice with the generally lower salaries available in rural areas.

This shortage of attorneys creates several problems. Established practitioners struggle to find newer or mid-career attorneys to transition or expand their practices, resulting in firms closing or lawyers continuing to practice longer than they would like practice. Clients, on the other hand, often face a challenge in obtaining the legal help they need. The shortage of attorneys poses the greatest hurdle for lower income individuals and others for whom traveling long distances to see a lawyer is difficult or simply not feasible.

ISBA Rural Practice Initiative

To address this issue the ISBA Rural Practice Initiative committee created two complementary programs.

  • The Rural Practice Summer Fellows program aims to connect law students with rural practitioners and to give them a taste of rural practice before they leave law school. The program includes a $5,000 fellowship grant and mentoring.
  • The Rural Practice Associate Fellows program aims to place graduating law students and attorneys as permanent associates with rural practitioners. The program includes a $5,000 stipend at the beginning of employment, and an additional $5,000 stipend if the associate is still working for the same firm after one year. 

These programs provide benefits to both the fellows and the lawyers who oversee them.

The deadline for applications for the 2024-25 Rural Practice Fellowship Program has passed.

Rural Practice News


Please email