Photograph: Washburn Law students in Dodge City, Kansas.

Rural Law

Washburn Law recognizes the importance of preparing students to practice the unique art of rural law in farming and ranching communities. We are dedicated to ensuring the availability of effective legal representation in rural communities.

  • Many rural lawyers are reaching retirement age.
  • Rural lawyers are eager to mentor law students and young lawyers, preparing them to take over their rural practice.
  • Washburn Law works with students to place them in externships, both regionally and throughout the United States, to prepare them for rural practice and help them further develop skills learned in law school.

Rural Employment Opportunities

  • Photograph: Gravel road in rural area.Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas.
  • Just 2 percent of small law practices are in those areas.
  • Rural residents may have to drive 100 miles or more to take care of routine matters like child custody, estate planning, and taxes.

"In rural America, there are job opportunities and a need for lawyers," ABA Journal (October 2014).

Rural Law Program

  • Focus on identifying rural employment opportunities and preparing students to transition from law school to actual practice.
  • Externship students are partnered with practicing attorneys or judges to learn the work done by those rural legal professionals.
  • A grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation allows Washburn Law to offer an immersive externship experience in one of the 26 counties the Hansen Foundation serves in northwest Kansas.
  • Students selected for the Hansen program have full tuition paid for six hours of externship credit and also receive $5,000 to cover summer living expenses in their placement community.
  • Read about Michael Abbott's externship experience in WaKeeney, Kansas during the summer of 2017.

Map: Shows Dane G. Hansen Foundation service area in northwest Kansas.
Dane G. Hansen Foundation service area.


  • The Rural Legal Practice Initiative partnership with Kansas State University helps prelaw students learn about legal career opportunities in rural communities.
  • Externships, internships, and research assistant positions are available, as well as free attendance at relevant continuing legal education (CLE).
  • Washburn Law has partnered with Baker University and Fort Hays State University to offer Law Early Admission Programs (LEAP) that allow academically talented and highly motivated undergraduate students to matriculate to Washburn Law after 3 or 3 1/2 years.

Student Organization

  • The Rural Practice Organization (RPO) provides development and networking opportunities for students interested in employment in rural communities.

Photograph: David Bideau, '82, speaking to students during a lunch and learn about practicing in a rural community.
David Bideau, '82, with other panelists, talks to students during an
RPO-sponsored lunch and learn about practicing in southeast Kansas.



  • Agricultural law
  • Farm and ranch taxation
  • Water law
  • Environmental law
  • Administrative law
  • Estate and family law
  • Oil and gas law
  • Mining law
  • Renewable energy law
  • Real estate transactions

Request more information or apply to Washburn Law.

Photographs: Hay bales in field.

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Hansen Grant Program Experience

Agricultural Law
Photograph: Combine harvesting in field.

Agricultural Law relates to agribusiness, which is conducted worldwide in rural communities and large metropolitan areas. It is a specialized area that is often treated in unique ways by U.S. legal and tax systems. Learn more about agricultural law at Washburn Law.

Washburn Law recognizes that there are many different paths into and out of law school. To provide its graduates with the maximum flexibility for career options, Washburn Law has carefully designed its first-year and upper-level curriculum, including its requirements and electives, to ensure that graduates from its juris doctor program achieve and exceed the ABA mandated learning outcomes. Our curriculum evolves with the practice of law; consequently, it is subject to change.