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Rural Legal Markets Beckon to Recent J.D.'s

But newly minted law graduates ought to expect much lower salaries in smaller markets.

Some lawyers recommend that recent J.D.’s seek out jobs involving rural courts to get legal experience.
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But the rural job market for permanent legal work doesn't look any more promising than the urban and suburban markets, according to Shapiro. "I would be surprised if any job publicly available in a rural area wasn't flooded with résumés," she says. 

Rural markets look less competitive than big city markets to some law school officials, however, which is why Philip Guzman, director of public service programs at North Carolina Central University's School of Law, advises students "all the time" to pursue rural jobs. 

"The analogy to the old country doctor still holds to some extent," he says. "If the student can get his or her foot into a small practice ... they have a head start." 

Some students don't have to go to unknown parts of the country to seek legal work. Like college students returning home after graduation, many law students are considering returning to their hometowns to practice law, Guzman says. "With apologies to Thomas Wolfe," he says, citing the author's 1940 novel, "you can, and perhaps should, go home again." 

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