Rural Practice Initiative

Rural Kentucky

Goals of the Program

The program identifies students who have a connection to, or an interest in, practicing in small cities and rural communities in the region and offers them individualized career counseling and personalized networking support.

“At Chase, we are committed to facilitating meaningful connections between our students and the small cities and rural communities throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky and our greater region,” said Dean Jeffrey Standen. “Chase has a long history of coordinating outreach efforts to help forge and enhance these relationships. Our Rural Practice Initiative enhances our commitment to helping our students, alumni, practitioners, and other members of these communities connect and interact.”

One of the goals of the program is to identify potential attorney mentors to help students learn about the benefits and challenges of serving small-town and rural clients. The program encourages students to take advantage of networking opportunities, business plan development, and law management practice resources.

Hazard, Kentucky

What is Rural?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “rural” is any place with fewer than 2,500 occupants located outside a continuously built-up area with a population of 50,000 or more.[i] The American Bar Association’s definition is broader. It considers “rural” any area with a population of less than 50,000. Under either definition, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana have many rural areas for lawyers to work outside of a high-density population center. While 6.3% of the U.S. population live in official rural areas, 24% of Kentuckians live in official rural areas.[ii]  Only sixteen of Kentucky’s 120 counties (13%) have a population of more than 50,000.

Why Rural?

Attorneys are often community leaders and a key component to economic development. “Too many of our rural markets and small towns are lacking a lawyer presence,” said Bill Robinson, member-in-charge of Frost Brown Todd’s Florence office and former president of the American Bar Association. “Kentucky is not unique. This is a national problem.” According to the ABA, rural America has a "'justice gap,' with legal needs going unmet because potential clients can't find a lawyer, or they can't afford the lawyers they can find."[iii] And NKU Chase “is addressing a public need that continues to be more pressing,” Robinson said.  

Of the 120 counties in Kentucky, 43 counties or 36% have a ratio of 1 attorney to 1,000 people or greater. Sixty-one to 62% of the Kentucky licensed attorneys identified a metro area as their mailing address.[iv]  


[i] Bruce M. Cameron, Becoming a Rural Lawyer.

[ii] Kentucky Population Growth: What Did the 2010 Census Tell Us? by Michael Price, Kentucky State Data Center, University of Louisville.

[iii] Lorelei Laird, "In Rural America, There Are Job Opportunities and a Need for Lawyers", ABA Journal, October 2014 issue 

[iv] Kentucky Supreme Court Rule 3.030 requires all persons admitted to the practice of law in the commonwealth of Kentucky to be members of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA). The KBA reported 13,324 active and inactive Kentucky licensed attorneys who live or work in Kentucky. Analysis of this KBA membership roster and 2010 U.S. Census Data reveals that 8,123 members (or 61% of all members) report a mailing address in Northern Kentucky (Boone, Kenton, Campbell), Jefferson and Fayette counties, and that 8,267 members (or 62% of all members) report a mailing address in the top 6 most populous counties (Boone, Fayette, Hardin, Jefferson, Kenton, and Warren; each with over 100,000 people). A KBA mailing address may be the attorney's office or residence.

The photograph in the banner was edited and is titled "Downtown Nicholasville" by w.marsh CC 2.0. The farm scene was taken in rural Boone County by Lindsey Jaeger. The last image was edited and is titled "Downtown Hazard" by w.marsh CC 2.0.