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Georgia’s Rural County Lawyer Problem

We all know all the lawyer jokes – how we need fewer, how the field is overcrowded and so on, and while that is true in concentrated metro areas, many of Georgia’s rural counties are struggling to maintain any type of legal representation at all leaving citizens to travel long distances for consultations and legal advice.

In fact, six Georgia counties have no active lawuers at all.Baker, Chattahoochee, Clay, Echols, Glascock, and Webster all have no lawyers. Four of those counties are in Southwest Georgia. Glasclock is just south of Augusta and Echols is near Valdosta. Another 25+ counties have less than 10 lawyers and the Georgia Bar is concerned.

Many of the South Georgia residents don’t believe Atlanta area lawyers and lawyer advocates understand the need in their communities. Some residents say it is no big deal to drive to the next county for a purchase or a service while others express concern as poverty limits access for far too many. Metro lawyers retort that they simply could not make a living in a small county that is so rural and has so few cases so it is unlikely that an attorney would headquarter in such a place.

Too few lawyers can cause problems with overlapping duties when a lawyer practices on behalf of the local government, in private practice and sometimes even in a judgeship capacity as well. When the well is dry of choices, counties have to make do and it hurts everyone involved.

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for

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