University of Arkansas Little Rock opening services to rural communities with launch of incubator

Two law students want to serve their hometowns in rural Arkansas, and a new Rural Practice Incubator Project at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law will make that possible. 

Bowen Law has selected two graduates to participate in its Rural Practice Incubator Project. Over the next 18-months, Cynthia Aikman and Abraham “Sam” Keefer will get support and training from the law school while they build their own small-town law practices, Talk Business & Politics reported.

They are passionate about the areas they call home and committed to helping their neighbors and fellow residents,” Theresa Beiner, dean of the Bowen law school said in an interview with TB&P. We look forward to helping them achieve their goals.”

According to the American Bar Association’s most recent profile of the legal profession, Arkansas has a ratio of 2.1 attorneys per 1,000 residents. Citizens in many rural counties have little to no access to legal representation.

Keefer plans to practice in Sharp County, focusing primarily on Cave City and Ash Flat. Combined those two cities barely break a population of 3,000 people, plus Ash Flat’s population is getting older. 

“I’ve spoken to local attorneys,” Keefer told TB&P. “The consensus is that a younger attorney is greatly needed in this area. My family and I are used to a student income and lifestyle. We’re committed to spending the next few years working to build a law practice.”

Meanwhile, Aikman will focus her practice on the Fourche Valley, a 32-mile area with few amenities, no nearby facilities, no cell service, and no attorneys. The closest law offices are 30-60 miles away, according to TB&P. 

It’s where she grew up and where her family has lived for eight generations, so it will be a homecoming after years in the Army 

“The rural, impoverished, and uneducated are discriminated against in nearly every aspect of their lives,” she said. “I want to assist my community, but I also want to educate its members in ways they can help themselves.”

 

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