House advances rural attorney bill

Rural attorney bill
Rural attorney bill(KFYR-TV)
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 3:43 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s hard for rural communities to find lawyers – but soon, it might get a little bit easier.

Two years ago, legislators created the rural attorney recruitment program, which pays recent law grads $45,000 to work in a rural community for five years. Now, they’ve voted to double the program’s size: if the bill becomes law, eight lawyers will be eligible, rather than the previous four.

“Most of North Dakota’s considered a legal desert, which is less than one attorney for each 1,000 in population. Even though the number of eligible attorney slots is being doubled in this bill, it is still only a modest eight attorneys total,” said Representative Mary Schneider, D-Fargo.

A similar program in South Dakota pays 32 lawyers every year to practice in rural communities. SB 2267 now heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.