Monday, July 10, 2017

Quantifying the rural lawyer shortage

This is my first post in a while so I thought I would break the silence by providing a sneak peek into a project that I have been working on and am incredibly excited about.

I have spent the past couple of months working on a project for my MPA program where I have used Department of Labor data to analyze the quantitative aspects of the rural lawyer shortage.

What is clear from the data is that the lawyer shortage is widespread and only one rural area exceeds the national average in employment (as measured by examining the location quotient), Southwest Montana. My research has so far only focused on the Carolinas and Virginia and has found that the lawyer shortage is unique in its ubiquity. Another profession of similar prestige and educational requirements (and student loan debt), family and general practitioners do not experience the same levels of rural shortages that lawyers do. This is particularly troubling but not terribly surprising, given that there are already programs that actively encourage doctors to move to rural areas. There is also no correlation between the number of general medical practitioners and lawyers in a given rural community, thus possibly questioning the idea that lawyers may gravitate to areas where there are similarly situated professionals.

I encourage readers to look at the embedded links for themselves. It is difficult to argue with objective data, especially when we have a similarly situated profession as a comparison point.

I will be talking more about this in the future but just wanted to provide a quick sneak peek.

1 comment:

Lissa Lucas said...

Thanks for taking a look at this problem! I wonder if you've considered the effect of the shortage in conjunction with the additional legal burdens folks in some rural areas are forced to bear. For instance, in frack-impacted areas like North Central WV and rural PA, it can take immense effort to simply protect your basic property rights (or your access to clean water). According to Scientific American, the rural poor tend to bear the largest costs of fracking. Here in WV I've been calling it "Extraction Debt": the portion of costs externalized on a local population by extraction industries.