Many rural Iowa communities are losing a valuable resource: attorneys. The state bar association reports it’s a growing crisis as small town lawyers are retiring and few are willing to take their place.
Some small town residents are struggling to get basic legal services they need to sell a house or draft a contract. Phil Garland, chair of the bar’s Rural Practices Committee, says they’re teaming up with the University of Iowa to place law students in rural areas this summer.
“We’re also expanding it to really try to encourage a lot of us in small town Iowa to hire a clerk during the summer, to take a spin and really see what life is like in a small town,” Garland says. Some Iowa towns currently have no resident attorneys, according to Garland.
He says Adams County now has just two attorneys and several other rural counties have only three or four. The program is placing eight law students in small towns this summer with plans to add more students next year. Garland was a guest on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” program.