Rural Attorney Recruitment Fund Considered

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa lawmakers may create a grant program to help recruit attorneys to practice in rural areas of the state.

Representative Brian Lohse of Bondurant says it would be modeled after a program in South Dakota.

Contract attorneys are appointed by judges to represent indigent clients in criminal court. According to the Iowa State Bar Association, since 2014 there’s been a nearly 50 percent decline in the number of attorneys willing to take those cases. Lohse, who is an attorney, says it’s difficult to find an attorney for any legal work in some areas.

A bill that’s won approval in a House committee would create a Rural Attorney Recruitment Fund to provide incentives to up to five attorneys for five years. The incentives could be worth 90 percent of the tuition for the University of Iowa Law School.