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April 12, 2018

Maine Law students gear up for busy summer as Rural Practice Fellows

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Ryan Rutledge, left, and Cameron Goodwin, both students at the University of Maine School of Law, spent the summer as law interns in Aroostook County, which has just 75 registered lawyers. Rutledge, a member of the class of 2019, will head to Mills, Shay, Lexier & Talbot in Skowhegan for a summer internship as part of the law school's expanding efforts to send more students to rural areas.

The University of Maine School of Law will send more students to rural areas this summer in its efforts to improve legal representation for people living outside major population centers.

Four students will intern with firms as Rural Practice Fellows, two more than last year when the program was launched.

Ryan Rutledge, of the class of 2019, is participating a second time after spending last summer at Bemis & Rossignol in Presque Isle. This summer, Rutledge will head to Mills, Shay, Lexier & Talbot in Skowhegan, and he couldn't be more excited.

"I learned so much and had such a positive experience last summer that I felt like I would be missing out on a great opportunity if I didn't apply for a second fellowship," he told Mainebiz this week.

He added: "Wherever I end up after law school, my goal is to bring as diverse an array of experiences as I can with me. That's the main reason I chose to work at a different law firm during my second summer. I'm using the Rural Practice Fellowship to help diversify my experiences, which will allow me to be an asset to the firm I eventually end up working for."

This year's other Rural Practice Fellows are: Brittanie Bradley (class of 2019), who will intern at the Hayes Law Office in Dover-Foxcroft; Amanda Bridges (class of 2020), who will follow in Rutledge's footsteps at Bemis & Rossignol in Presque Isle; and Kathryn King (class of 2020), who will be at Fletcher, Mahar & Clark in Calais.

King, a former history and policy teacher, track and mock trial coach at Hampden Academy, said in an email to Mainebiz that she learned about the justice gap in Maine immediately after starting at Maine Law last fall, and wants to do her part to "make Maine's justice system as accessible for people in Calais as it is for people in Portland."

She added: "I want to do what I can to connect Mainers with our justice system as I did to connect Maine kids with policy and their country's history. This fellowship will move me a giant step in that direction. I am grateful and excited!"

Maine Law launched the three-year Rural Pilot Program last year with funding from the Maine Justice Foundation.

Danielle Conway, dean of Maine Law and a 2017 Mainebiz Woman to Watch, has said that she would like to see the program expanded and permanently endowed to help improve access to justice in rural Maine.

Maine Law announced the 2018 Rural Practice Fellows along with a host of other summer fellows, in locations as far afield as Chicago and Hawaii, and as close as Augusta and Portland. The full list is available here.

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