Hansen Foundation Grant Will Support Rural Law Externships

The Dane G. Hansen Foundation has selected Washburn University School of Law to receive a grant to support an externship program as part of its Rural Law Program.

The opportunity to entice future lawyers to practice in rural America comes at a time when the number of lawyers available to serve people living in rural areas is disproportionately low. As reported in The National Law Journal, some residents of Nebraska have to travel 200 miles each way to reach the nearest lawyers, while Washington has one lawyer for every 12 people. Washburn Law is answering rural Americans’ call to have increased access to justice by offering the Rural Law Program to its law students. 

Students in the Rural Law Program will be provided with an immersive externship experience in one of the 26 counties that the Hansen Foundation serves in northwest Kansas. Students chosen for this program will be allowed to enroll in six hours of externship credit during the summer with full cost of tuition covered by the program. Because students will be expected to live in their placement community, they will also receive a living stipend of an additional $5,000 to cover travel, housing, and related expenses during the program.

Externship students will be partnered with practicing attorneys or judges in one of the covered counties to learn the work done by legal professionals in those areas. Students may be expected to work with the placement attorney, as well as other attorneys or judges in the area. 

“The Hansen Foundation grant will allow Washburn Law students to try out rural law practice in these northwest Kansas communities,” said Externship Program Director Shawn Leisinger. “Senior attorneys will get to share their experience and expertise while at the same time having an opportunity to see if these young lawyers might be a good fit for rural practice in their small towns.  This is a wonderful program that will help to place law students and ultimately young lawyers in underserved rural areas, and is a win-win for the students, rural lawyers, and these communities!”

The deadline to apply for this summer’s externships is May 19.