Small town lawyering


The burden of pro bono falls most heavily on the solo and small firm practitioner.

In Georgia, 65% of the state’s lawyers are in Atlanta; only 35% of the state’s active lawyers practice in the remaining 154 counties where 72% of the state’s legal aid-eligible live.

We hear anecdotal stories from small town lawyers about their work. The stories don’t come from their firm marketing and development department or from the firm pro bono partner: these are big city, big firm assets. Rural lawyers don’t do PR.

The small town lawyer works alone or maybe with one or two other lawyers. Overhead is kept to a minimum. Pro bono is a daily issue, not one occasionally mentioned by the firm’s community service folks or pro bono committee. And unlike the case with big firm pro bono, the small town lawyer’s wallet sees an immediate hit.

Signature pro bono projects? Not in their vocabulary. Legal information and advice clinics? OK. Evictions? Well, no. Conflicts abound in a small town.

All politics is local. Pro bono falls under that “politics” banner.

Civility rules. Handshakes and reputations are the currency.

I recommend, too, reading “Practicing Law in a Small Town” at the Law Practice Matters blog.

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About ProBonoGA

Lawyer and justice architect wannabe... I am the pro bono director for Georgia Legal Services Program and direct a program that is funded by GLSP and the State Bar of Georgia. I am a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia, and not in any other jurisdiction. Nothing posted on this blog should be considered legal advice. Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with me. I do not have an active legal practice and do not have clients. I am not using this site to market to clients. I do not recommend attorneys or law firms. If I reference an attorney or a law firm in this blog, I do so to tell a story, make a point, or urge you to think about an issue presented by that attorney or law firm.
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One Response to Small town lawyering

  1. Erik says:

    Good post and good points. Those statistics about Georgia are interesting. I bet North Carolina is not too different, though instead of one gigantic metro area we have about 5 very big ones.

    The difficulties of practicing in a small town are not well understood by folks who go to work in skyscrapers and mega-firms. Thanks for showing that pro bono, like so many other things, is different in a small, rural law practice.

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