As the only statewide general bar association in Illinois, the ISBA is working to address the problem of 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 newer attorneys interested in practicing law in rural parts of Illinois.
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.
- More about the shortage of rural attorneys
- Number of Private Practice Attorneys in Illinois by County
- Number of Private Practice Attorneys in Illinois by County per 1,000
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 new 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. Find out more about the benefits and apply! Deadline for applications is February 3, 2023.
Rural Practice News
- Feedback Needed - The ISBA is exploring how to best serve rural and small town practitioners through a listening tour. For more information and to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please visit the Special Committee on Serving Lawyers in Rural Practices webpage.
- See coverage of the ISBA Rural Practice Fellowship Program in the News.
- 2022 Rural Practice Fellows Announced
Please email RPFellows@isba.org