Restricted Access to Justice
Rural America is facing a shortage of lawyers. In over 50 counties in the U.S., there are no lawyers serving residents, requiring clients to travel hours across counties to find a lawyer who can represent them. Without access to a competent lawyer, they face potentially dire consequences in employment, housing, health, and criminal matters. In part 1 of this 2-part series, Professor Lisa Pruitt of UC Davis explains what accounts for the lack of lawyers in rural communities, how the lawyer shortage confounds access to justice, and the COVID-19 pandemic’s acute effects on rural legal deserts. She explores the unique ethical issues caused by the rural lawyer shortage, including conflicts of interest, due process concerns with courts presided over by non-lawyers, and other related professional responsibility issues.
Watch Part 2 of Legal Deserts.