The Nebraska College of Law is working to attract high school students in rural areas to the legal profession.
Richard Moberly, interim dean of the College, says many counties in the state have three lawyers or fewer.
He says they are working with Wayne and Chadron state colleges and the University of Nebraska-Kearney to provide high school seniors a path to law school.
“Those schools, in coordination with the law school, will read applications from high school students who apply to those colleges and this program, and we’ll pick the best ones,” Moberly tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They will get free undergraduate tuition at those colleges for four years. If they maintain a certain GPA and score on their LSAT, they’ll be automatically admitted to the law school.”
Moberly says they expect those students to work in rural areas after graduating law school.
“What we’ve told the schools is that we really want the students to major in something they’re interested in, major in something that requires some rigorous analytical thinking and that also gets them writing,” he says. “Those are the two best skills to bring to law school.”
The three colleges will start talking with high school seniors about the program this fall and Moberly says Wayne State may offer the tuition waver retroactively to current freshmen and sophomores.
Moberly says this critical shortage of lawyers impacts the justice system and the vitality of rural counties.
“I like to say nothing gets done without lawyers – land doesn’t get transferred, wills don’t get made, kids don’t get adopted,” he says. “All of that involves economic development as well. Just bringing professionals into those areas will help.”
The Rural Law Opportunities Program is modeled after a similar program created by the University of Nebraska Medical Center more than 25 years ago.