10b by lanyuehua



                                AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
                                STATE BAR OF SOUTH DAKOTA
                             REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES


1   RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, territorial, tribal and local
2   governments to support efforts to address the decline in the number of lawyers practicing in rural
3   areas and to address access to justice issues for residents in rural America.
5   FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages state and territorial bar
6   associations to develop programs to increase the number of lawyers practicing in rural areas and
7   which address access to justice issues for residents in rural America.
                                  AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
                                  STATE BAR OF SOUTH DAKOTA
                               REPORT TO THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES


The main street attorney in rural America is an endangered species. The small number of rural
lawyers in relation to the unmet need for legal services in rural areas is shocking. The impact of
losing rural lawyers on the economic viability of rural communities and the delivery of justice to
residents in these areas is potentially devastating.

In South Dakota, 65% of the attorneys are located in only four cities. The results of the 2010
census reveal a continuation of the trend where rural areas lose population to urban areas. As
Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, David Gilbertson, warned in his State of the
Judiciary message, “We face the very real possibility of whole sections of this state being
without access to legal services. Large populated areas are becoming islands of justice in a rural
sea of justice denied.”

The demographics of the legal profession and urban migration in South Dakota reflect the wider
trend seen across the country. In small, rural communities the aging of the profession is
pronounced with the average age of lawyers serving those communities climbing. The troubling
aspect of the demographic data for small communities in rural areas is more apparent when
combined with the national trend among young lawyers who prefer an urban based practice in
significant numbers. 1

Assuring that main streets in rural America include a law practice is not an isolated Bar issue. It
is not limited to access to justice. It is linked to the very survival of many key elements that
define the distinctive quality of life in all of rural America. The decline of main street lawyers is
directly connected to the health of the local economy, impacts shrinking governmental budgets,
and is key to effective advocacy to ward off discussions about courthouse closings and county
consolidation. Fred Cozad, a mentor to so many lawyers but the only lawyer in Martin, SD, is
the epitome of a country lawyer who has thrived in a rural community. Yet, his practice of 64
years spanning 8 decades, the loyal clients he has served and the town of Martin are at risk
because he does not have a successor. Because of these threats, this issue is not just a lawyer
problem, it is a community problem.

In response to these challenges, the State Bar of South Dakota has taken a leadership role in
addressing the rural attorney's status as an endangered species through formation of Project Rural
Practice ("PRP"). PRP was charged with the tasks of identifying the scope of the decline of main
street lawyers in rural South Dakota, assessing its impact and developing recommendations.
 During the preparation of this Report, the authors conducted an informal survey of a small but diverse cross-
section of states. The results of the survey confirmed the trends identified in this paragraph are occurring in Arizona,
Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas. The State Bars of
Iowa and Nebraska are working on similar programs.
PRP is a collaborative effort involving multiple organizations. They include: the South Dakota
Indian Country Bar Association, County Commissioners Association, School District
Association, the Municipal League, the Governor's office, legislative leaders, Retailers
Association, Banker's Association, Chamber of Commerce, state and local Economic
Development agencies, the States Attorneys Association, the Unified Judicial System, USD
School of Law, service veteran representatives, USDA Rural Development Agency, statue
universities, South Dakota Community Foundation and others. The diversity of participation
allows each stakeholder to spotlight their interest in this issue, seek common ground and identify
enlightened solutions.

The work of PRP is performed by a Task Force appointed by past President Patrick Goetzinger
in the Fall of 2011. The Task Force is co-chaired by Past Presidents Goetzinger and Bob Morris.
It is comprised of representatives of the several groups referenced above, all working together in
a multi-disciplinary approach to incubate solutions to the challenge.

The PRP Task Force has led the process of identifying ways to recruit lawyers to Main street in
rural areas. Several objectives have evolved, which can be categorized into three areas.

First, the Bar must educate lawyers about practice support resources available to attorneys in
rural areas and effectively demonstrate that the rural attorney will have all the advantages and
support available to an urban, big firm attorney. Technology, on-line resources, IT support
services, Bar mentorship programs and ABA law office management and practice support
resources are bundled and made available to break down the barriers young lawyers or new
lawyers in rural areas encounter in setting up and supporting a rural practice. PRP will examine
programs from other states that accomplish giving rural bound attorneys practice ready skills.
These programs include solo & small firm boot camps modeled after successful Trial Academy
programs, internships, externships and Massachusetts’s idea of establishing a legal residency
program that mimics the medical profession’s residency model. The rural attorney will have
available to them training, mentoring, resources and professional support that rivals the urban,
big firm experience.

Second, rural communities will be encouraged to develop incentives and to make the case for
recruiting a lawyer to their main street. Rural towns do amazing things when local leaders lead.
They must combat the myth of social isolation and address the need for a companion occupation
for the lawyer's spouse or significant other. State and local economic development agencies are
motivated to engage in creative planning to make the case for locating a practice in a rural
community and demonstrate the area can support a thriving practice.

The tactics and programs used by state and local leaders to recruit medical professionals to rural
areas can be applied with the same vigor to attract legal professionals to rural areas. State
leaders have been engaged in a discussion of what can be done legislatively and through policy
innovations to support rural communities wanting to recruit attorneys and address student loan
debt for lawyers committing to a rural community. To supplement these efforts, the option of
adding to the Law School curriculum and admissions policy will further support motivating
students to seek a rural practice vocation. PRP provides information to influence state and
community attitudes and develop a template for making available legal services in a virtual law
office setting or recruiting lawyers to Main street in rural America. As Elsie Meeks, SD State
Director of the USDA Rural Development Program eloquently observed, PRP is a significant
part of the universal objective to keep rural areas not just viable, but thriving.

Third, lawyers seeking a rural opportunity and communities wanting a Main street lawyer need
to be connected. PRP is developing a website for South Dakota communities and lawyers to
match the interested lawyer with the interested community or local lawyer seeking a successor.
The website will host practice support and community information referenced above. In addition
to being a valuable resource with relevant information, the website has been described as a
match.com for lawyers and communities. In addition, PRP is at the center of coordinating the
task of bringing attention to this issue by tying into the communication network of our non-
lawyer stakeholders, such as social media, blogs, list-serves, board meetings, newsletters,
columns, conventions and conferences.

The work of the State Bar of South Dakota can provide a template for use by other Bar
organizations. ABA House of Delegates action to support the Resolution brings attention to this
issue and the different methods of addressing the issue. Supporting the Resolution enhances the
legal profession’s role as the leader of a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing issues
important to rural America. By bringing attention to the need for access to justice in rural areas
and actively examining the rural lawyer's status as an endangered species, the Resolution is
intended to dispel the myths of a rural practice and inspire law students to pursue a career as a
country lawyer. Your support of the Resolution vaults Project Rural Practice to the status of
ABA policy that recognizes effective access to justice includes a multi-disciplinary approach to
recruiting lawyers to rural communities in order to assure rural America remains not just viable,
but thriving.

Respectfully submitted,
Thomas Nicholson, President
State Bar of South Dakota
August 2012

County distribution reports for last year and this year reveal that the bulk of attorneys
are in Maricopa County (Phoenix), followed by Pima County (Tucson). Rough math--
about 94% of Arizona attorneys are in the two largest counties, and 76% of all lawyers
are in Maricopa. We don't see much movement in the numbers in what we call the out-
counties (all others than Maricopa and Pima). I suspect we're experiencing the same
issues you are, although that is based on anecdotal evidence. I hear from lawyers in
the out-counties that as soon as a young lawyer gets his/her sea legs, they move to



    Attached are statistics from the State Bar Membership Department about the
    distribution of Georgia lawyers in 2012, as well as a map which illustrates the
    problem. The map is based on data that's from last year, but the distribution has
    not changed significantly. Note that 6 Georgia counties have no lawyers at all,
    and 62 of our 159 counties have 10 or fewer lawyers (and that counts the local
    judge, solicitor, etc.)

    Our situation is worse than that of South Dakota, in that 70% of Georgia lawyers
    are in metro Atlanta. Meanwhile, 67% of poor Georgians are outside metro. (The
    poverty population figures on the Word document are from the 2000 census.
    Later census data shows a slight shift in percentage toward metro, though the
    overall numbers of people in poverty in the state grew significantly.)
                     LAWYER DISTRIBUTION IN GEORGIA- MAY 2012
                   (Source: State Bar of Georgia Membership Department)

                        LAWYER POPULATION IN GEORGIA

29,317              Active, In-state Lawyers

    -   20,334       Active Lawyers in 5-County Metro Atlanta (Clayton, Cobb,
        Dekalb, Fulton, Gwinnett)

=   8,983     Active Lawyers in the remaining 154 Counties of Georgia

% Active Lawyers in the 5-County Metro Atlanta          = 70%, with these 5 counties
having 28% of the state’s Poverty Population

% Active Lawyers in the Remaining 154 Counties = 30%, with these 154 counties
having 72% of the state’s Poverty Population

Counties in Georgia with NO LAWYER = 6 (Baker, Chattahoochee, Clay, Echols, Glascock
and Webster; No change since 2011)

Counties in Georgia with 1 - 5 LAWYERS = 28

Counties in Georgia with between 6 and 10 LAWYERS = 28

Total Counties with 10 or fewer active lawyers: 62. (Note: This count includes judges,
prosecutors, public defenders, county or city attorneys, and other categories of lawyers
not generally available to provide pro bono civil legal services.)

Persistent Poverty Counties* in Georgia – 34 Counties in BOLD = Persistently
Poor AND 0-5 lawyers:

Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Baker, Banks, Baldwin, Ben Hill, Berrien, Bleckley,
Brantley, Brooks, Bulloch, Burke, Calhoun, Candler, Charlton, Chattahoochee,
Clarke*, Clay, Clinch, Coffee, Colquit, Cook, Crawford, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly,
Dougherty*, Early, Echols, Emanuel, Evans, Glascock, Glynn, Grady, Greene,
Hancock, Irwin, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Lanier, Laurens,
Liberty, Lincoln, Long, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, McDuffie*, McIntosh, Meriwether,
Miller, Mitchell, Montgomery, Oglethorpe, Peach, Pierce, Pulaski, Putnam, Quitman,

Randolph, Schley, Screven, Seminole, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taliaferro, Tattnall,
Taylor, Telfair, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Toombs, Treutlen, Troup, Turner, Twiggs, Ware,
Warren, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Wheeler, Wilcox, Wilkes, Wilkinson, Worth

* According to a study by the University of Georgia, Georgia is home to 39% of the
entire South’s persistently poor counties.


In Idaho, the Idaho State Bar data indicates that of the Idaho licensed lawyers that
practice in Idaho, 57% of the lawyers practice in Boise or within 20 miles of Boise. If
you include the lawyers that practice in the four other major cities in Idaho (Idaho Falls,
Pocatello, Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene), the percentage is 78% of the lawyers. The
population of Boise, its surrounding area, and the same four cities is only 47% of
Idaho’s population. Anecdotally, I know Idaho has several rural counties with less than
5 lawyers. In a few cases, the only lawyer is the prosecuting attorney and there is a


No statistics were available but the State Bar’s Executive Director’s gut feeling confirms
the trend seen in South Dakota.


Within Iowa’s 99 counties, over 56% of the attorneys are located in four metropolitan
areas. Only 275 attorneys (less than 4% of Iowa attorneys) live in the 33 most rural
counties. The four least populated counties each have four or fewer practicing
attorneys. The age of rural attorneys continues to climb while younger attorneys
continue to gravitate to the larger urban areas.

The Iowa State Bar Association is keenly aware of the same situation in Iowa as found
in South Dakota. Our state bar association last year formed a new “Rural Practice”
Committee chaired by Attorney Phil Garland (Garner, IA). We have received
considerable nationwide publicity regarding our state bar association efforts.


I can speak for my rural part of the state and tell you that this is an issue. Rural
attorneys have real problems attracting and retaining young lawyers. I can think of one
very successful firm one county away that has gone through 4-5 associates in a short
period. The new attorneys get there and then feel isolated and leave as soon as they
can find something in a more metro area. There has been some success in getting
hometown people to come home after law school, especially if there is a family
connection. My brother and I did that, David Rogers did that in Fredonia, Jeff Gossard
did that in Coffeyville, and Kurt Kluin’s daughter will be joining him soon in Chanute.
Jeff Gettler, the KBA Young Lawyer’s president-elect, came back to his home town of
Independence a few years ago. It was not that long ago that the town of Sedan was
advertising in the KBA Journal to try to get a lawyer to come to town!

I believe that this is certainly an issue in Kansas and I know that both law schools are
trying to develop a way to be matchmakers for rural communities and their graduates
who would consider a rural practice. With technology for the law practice as it is, that
issue should not be a barrier. It is more the perceived social isolation and lack of jobs
for a spouse that are an issue. The idea of identifying home grown prospects who have
grown up in the rural areas and enjoy the rural life appeals to me. There are a lot of
rural lawyers who have had very enjoyable practices and lives in Kansas. I am certainly
open to trying to figure out how the KBA can help and I would support the ABA
Resolution and Report.



The trend is similar in Mississippi. Presently almost half (48%) of the lawyers in
Mississippi are in the Jackson metro area.


I have attached the Membership Rpt for June 2012 (July’s is not yet completed but
shouldn’t change much). The critical information is found in the District breakdown – the
majority of attorneys in 6 Judicial Districts that include 1st, Lewis & Clark - Broadwater
(Helena),4th, Missoula & Mineral, 8th, Cascade, 11th Flathead, 13th Yellowstone, 18th,
Gallatin. Every District has some attorneys (active) but not every county necessarily.
The E MT districts have lowest numbers, however, we just did E MT Road Show –
Havre, Glasgow, Sidney, Miles City and the mix of new and older attorneys is changing
due to the E. MT activity/ W. ND oil/ influx of population. We got great input from
attorneys and attracting more lawyers, particularly newer lawyers but sense was unless
they came from area to begin with and attended UM School of Law, they aren’t attracted
to area.

FYI from the Bar’s 2010 membership survey 51 % of MT attorneys are in private
practice, 39% solo, 11% in firms of 20+. Age – 46% 51 or older; 19% 41 -50 – overall
65% 41 or older. FYI 15% 61-70 and 2% over 70. You can see by membership report
the gender breakdown, from 2010 survey 55% male, 45% female attorneys. FYI – I can
get the whole survey if needed.



Nebraska is facing similar issues and is developing a rural practice program


Our data regarding these matters are pretty skimpY. Here’s the little bit I can tell you.
In North Dakota, 46% of the attorneys are located in the four largest cities. Four years
ago western North Dakota faced the same problem of declining access to legal
services. Now, however, we’re experiencing a unique situation; the oil boom in western
North Dakota is causing a significant increase in both case load and attorney work load
in the state’s two western judicial districts. We have lawyers looking for work in eastern
North Dakota, and work looking for lawyers in western North Dakota. If lawyers could
find a place to live in western North Dakota I believe they would have immediate
employment. While some lawyers would be willing to make the move for the work,
others are still reluctant to abandon eastern North Dakota’s access to the cultural
refinements of Minnesota. The demand for oil and gas work in western North Dakota is
reducing access to other legal services like family law matters, forcing those clients to
contact Bismarck, Grand Forks and Fargo lawyers for help. The boom is forecast to
continue for several more years, and it will be interesting to see what population shifts
may result. In the meantime, membership in the State Bar Association of North Dakota
has slowly but consistently increased over the past several years.


Texas is experiencing a similar trend as reflected in the data below.

             SBOT Metropolitan Statistical Area Growth Trends: 2001 to 2011

In 2011 there were 83 percent of the active in-state attorney members of the State Bar of Texas in the
four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and 17 percent in other areas. This is a change from 81
percent and 19 percent in 2001 respectively.

               Ten Year Growth Trend of the Four Largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)

                                                                     2001       2011      Change

          In-State Total                                            62,996     80,587       28%

          Four Largest MSAs

                              Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown MSA        19,847     25,727       30%

                               Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA      18,770     24,357       30%

                                       Austin-Round Rock MSA        7,717      10,550       37%

                                              San Antonio MSA       4,816       6,170       28%

          Four Largest MSA Total                                    51,150     66,804       31%

          Four Largest MSA Percent of In-State Total                 81%        83%

                             GENERAL INFORMATION FORM

Submitting Entity: State Bar of South Dakota

Submitted By: Thomas Nicholson, President of the State Bar of South Dakota and
Patrick Goetzinger, Co-Chair of Project Rural Practice

1.    Summary of Resolution(s). To support and encourage efforts to address the
     decline in the number of lawyers practicing in rural areas and to address access to
     justice issues for residents in rural America.

2.   Approval by Submitting Entity. Yes.

3. Has this or a similar resolution been submitted to the House or Board previously?
   Not to my knowledge.

4.    What existing Association policies are relevant to this Resolution and how would
     they be affected by its adoption? I am not aware of specific policies related to this

5.    What urgency exists which requires action at this meeting of the House? Rural
     practice issues are a growing crisis in rural America. Action by the House sustains
     momentum on this issue and brings it to the attention of all states affected by the
     crisis encouraging shared solutions and information.

6.   Status of Legislation. (If applicable) N/A

7.    Brief explanation regarding plans for implementation of the policy, if adopted by the
     House of Delegates. Action is being taken in certain states affected by the crisis.
     ABA action is essential to continued momentum on identifying and implementing
     solutions suitable for the respective states.

8.   Cost to the Association. (Both direct and indirect costs) None that I am aware of.

9. Disclosure of Interest. (If applicable) N/A.

10. Referrals. N/A

11. Contact Name and Address Information. (Prior to the meeting. Please include
   name, address, telephone number and e-mail address) Patrick Goetzinger, PO Box
   8045, Rapid City, SD 57709; 605-342-1078; patrick@gpnalaw.com
12. Contact Name and Address Information. (Who will present the report to the House?
   Please include name, address, telephone number, cell phone number and e-mail
   address.) Same as above.

                              EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.   Summary of the Resolution

     To support and encourage efforts to address the decline in the number of
     lawyers practicing in rural areas and to address access to justice issues for
     residents in rural America.

2.   Summary of the Issue that the Resolution Addresses

     The resolution addresses the issue of declining rural attorney numbers and
     access to justice and legal services in rural America.

3.   Please Explain How the Proposed Policy Position will address the issue

     Rural practice issues are a growing crisis in rural America. Action by the House
     sustains momentum on this issue and brings it to the attention of all states
     affected by the crisis encouraging shared solutions and information. ABA action
     is essential to continued momentum on identifying and implementing solutions
     suitable for the respective states.

4.   Summary of Minority Views

     None has come forward.

To top