The BigLaw rat race isn't for everyone. If you could care less about making partner or raking in the dough, there is another option: rural law practice.
Think of it as being like a country doctor; the country lawyer -- the smart guy or gal whom everyone approaches with their legal questions, be it at your office, at a chili cook-off, or at a dance.
But how much will you sacrifice in terms of salary and career goals? It doesn't have to be that way. Here are five reasons going rural may be more appealing than you think:
- The challenge. Sure, there's less competition for rural law jobs, and rural lawyers likely won't be dealing with complex litigation. But don't dismiss the challenge of handling "those small messy things that matter to people," the Rural Lawyer blog points out. Another challenge is being flexible, as rural lawyers often handle a wide variety of cases.
- Quality of life. Who needs long commutes and big-city inconveniences? Rural law practice is typically less stressful, lets you see your clients around town, and gives you more time to pursue your non-legal interests. Like making sure your kids can recognize your face.
- Community. One consequence of seeing clients around town is the increased potential for word-of-mouth referrals. Fears of isolation can be countered by participating in local events, and even by using social media, Rural Lawyer suggests.
- A more level playing field. Small-town law practice focuses less on credentials, according to Rural Lawyer. That means hard-working, competent attorneys from lower-ranked law schools can make their mark a bit more easily.
- Jobs are out there. As rural lawyers retire, new attorneys are needed to take their place. "People in small towns prefer to spend money locally," Rural Lawyer says about establishing a rural law practice. In short, like in the movie "Field of Dreams": Build a reputable practice, and clients will come.
- Bar Program in Kansas Promotes Rural Practice, an Increasingly Appealing Choice for Law Grads (ABA Journal)
- Small-Town Lawyer Seeks Decent Coffee, So He Roasts His Own (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Small Towns That Pay Attorneys Big City Salaries (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Scalia Tells Young Lawyers Move to Cleveland, Work Less, Chill Out (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)