Updated: July 12, 2021

In November 2019, the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) began focusing on the topic of “legal deserts”, areas where access to legal services and representation are limited. Shortly thereafter, the WSBA formed a project team whose primary goal was to identify ways in which the WSBA is best positioned to support the practice of law in the rural communities of Washington state. The project consists of seven phases: 1) awareness and conception, 2) research, 3) ideation, 4) prototyping and testing, 5) budget approval, 6) implementation, and 7) ongoing evaluation. During the research phase of this project, WSBA surveyed new members and practitioners in rural communities, conducted outreach calls with individual rural practitioners, gathered information from leaders in other states, and reviewed available literature regarding the unique needs and circumstances of rural practice.

While the research is always ongoing, the project team identified a number of trends related to the benefits, barriers, and challenges facing rural practitioners. The project is now ready to begin brainstorming potential ways the WSBA is uniquely situated to support rural practitioners in Washington state. The resources below are collected here for the ideation brainstorming phase of this project. This page will be updated as the project progresses. If you have any questions or feedback please email WSBA Member Services and Engagement Manager Julianne Unite at julianneu@wsba.org

WSBA Rural Practice Project Plan and Timeline

Project Plan & Timeline

WSBA Rural Practice Project Research Summaries

Rural Practice Survey Summary and  Rural Practice Survey Results

Rural Practitioner Outreach Calls Summary and WSBA Rural Practice Project Outreach Calls Questions Script

WSBA Rural Practice Project Ideation Phase Resources

Prompts for Ideation Brainstorming Discussions

Brainstorming Session Summary

Prompts for Ideation Proposed Solutions Feedback Discussions

Other Resources

Legal Deserts: A Multi-State Perspective on Rural Access to Justice — Harvard Law Review

2020 ABA Profile of the Legal Profession — American Bar Association

Legal Deserts Threaten Justice for All in Rural America — American Bar Association

No Country for Rural Lawyers: Small-town Attorneys Still Find it Hard to Thrive — American Bar Association

Financial Aid for Attys Could Help Close Rural Justice Gap — Law360

Serving Self-Represented Litigants: A Survey Report on Self-Represented Litigant Services in Washington State Courts — Washington State Court Management Council