- Nebraska, as well as other plains states, is facing a serious shortage of attorneys, writes Margery A. Beck with the Associated Press. ABC News reports that in at least 11 counties in Nebraska, there are no lawyers outside of elected prosecutors, even for divorce court and other minor matters.
- Nebraska has launched a new career development program aimed at rural high school students to get them into college to practice law in more rural areas. Modeled after the already successful medical career path programs, students who excel in high school are accepted into the law program at University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln.
- Other states, like South Dakota, have already placed dozens of students into rural attorney careers, which represents around 60% of the original students who have been enrolled in the program.
Companies are facing major candidate shortages in many industries, simply because there are too few skilled professionals willing to work in small towns, where salaries are typically a lot lower. Strapped for cash due to student loan debt, these folks are looking to cash in on their educations. What Nebraska and South Dakota are doing, by offering high school students the opportunity to get educated in the legal field, is a bold move towards solving candidate shortages.
The return on investment rate looks to be fairly good at more than half of the students coming back to their hometowns to work following graduation. However, what can rural areas do in the meantime to attract lawyers to relocate to the relative quiet and safety of small towns? This should also be a factor in the program as young attorneys need mentors.