The adventures (and non-adventures) of a marginally seasoned attorney.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

A guide to small towns

If you're one of the thousands of soon-to-be law school grads that is still searching for employment, there's a good chance you're going to wind up working in a small town after you graduate. This can be a scary idea for some, especially for those who have always thought of a small town as a place where the bars don't stay open past one.  But no worries, I've spent most of my life living in small towns, and just so long as you know what to expect, you'll be just fine. 

So what should you expect in a small town, other than "not much"?  Most small towns fall into one of five categories, which I have listed here along with descriptions.  And though these descriptions certainly aren't thorough, they're a good place to start:
  • The small town with the Walmart Supercenter - Oh my gosh. If you are a small town with a Walmart Supercenter, you are a BIG DEAL in the small town world.  People from small towns all over probably FLOCK to your town.  When Berryville finally got a Supercenter, people from all over Carroll County were taking their kids out of school to go visit.  Unfortunately, citizens of Supercenter towns have a bit of a superiority complex, so don't fall into that mindset. 
  • The small town that's next door to a big town - You'll be fine. You can commute from the big town if you want.  And your clients will probably be very loyal to you, as they chose you over one of those fancy Fayetteville attorneys.
  • The small town that's kind of isolated (I grew up here!) -  You fall into this category if you're more than 45 minutes away from an interstate. The good news is you probably have a Sonic.  The bad news is you'll get to know everyone in this town, and therefore, you'll get to know everyone who works at this Sonic. And you wouldn't trust ANY of those kids to get near your food.
  • The small town that's REALLY isolated - Take your dramamine, folks. It's going to be a long, winding drive to this town.  And you don't even get a Sonic treat at the end of the trip.  But sleep tight, because the big corporations have stayed far, far away from here.  Enjoy a slice of apple pie. This is America.  Not a very exciting version of America. But America, nonetheless.
  • The small town that's REALLY isolated and doesn't have its own high school  - You're guaranteed to be the only attorney in this town.  Unfortunately, you probably only have two potential clients: Your great-aunt Effie and some kid named Charles who's getting suspended from elementary school for smoking cigarettes on school property.  But Charles gets in trouble quite a little bit, so at least you have constant business.
So don't worry. You're going to be just fine. And one final note: small towns are a lot like law school. Everyone knows your business, everyone talks about your business, and everyone has an opinion about your business.  But think of it this way. After going through law school, you know how to handle this gossip. So take comfort in the fact that law school prepared you for something practical for once.