Since my readership tends to overlap with Half Sigma’s, and Half Sigma writes a lot about the lawyer glut and poor employment prospects for lawyers, I thought I wuld pass along this NPR article on rural lawyers:
The American Bar Association has not collected data on rural law firms in more than a decade. But as younger professionals gravitate toward urban life, Garland says, many older, small-town lawyers are nearing retirement with no one to fill their shoes. Some areas have just a few attorneys for an entire county.
About three hours south in Albia, Iowa, John Pabst works out of an old Victorian house. He doesn’t have anyone waiting in the wings, so he has also taken on a law student this summer who will have to adapt to the small town.
“If you’re a single person, Monroe County, Iowa, unless you have local connections, is not what I would call a hot spot for social activity,” Pabst admits.
But many recent law grads cannot afford to be quite so picky. A report from the National Association for Law Placement last year called the market for entry-level lawyers the worst in 30 years. Fewer than half found jobs in private firms.
The social opportunities part shouldn’t be underplayed. If you’re just getting out of law school and are looking for someone to settle down with, it’s not unimportant to be able to find a partner. The relationship market in smaller towns is considerably less efficient than that of cities. This means that the opportunities are such that you see a lot more disparate couples. That of course means you could luck out and get someone hotter than you otherwise might, but it also means that you could have to settle. Mostly, though, it means you’re less likely to find someone that you’re compatible with. Particularly if you are an urban-type. There also appears to be a gender disparity, so if you’re a guy, the odds may be additionally stacked against you.
Chuck Klosterman wrote about the gender disparity in his novel, Downtown Owl. One of the characters is a Wisconsinite teacher who needs to bide some time in small-town North Dakota before returning to Wisconsin to teach. She finds herself in the middle of an astonishingly good relationship market for a young woman. The same would likely be true of a female lawyer, if she is hip to the fact that her career status is likely to outstrip her future husband’s. A male lawyer would probably find himself on the losing end of that equation.
In any event, I don’t think this is a case of NPR describing something that doesn’t exist. I remember when I was looking at law schools, there was one in the midwest that would waive out-of-state tuition if you promised to stay in the state and practice law there after you graduated.