Many rural counties in Missouri have very few lawyers. Forty counties in Missouri have 10 or fewer licensed attorneys. Pro bono representation is a greater challenge because of the limited attorney pool in the community.
Limited scope representation (LSR) offers a means to increase legal services in such communities. In an appropriate case, LSR rules allow legal representation without appearing in court. With modern communication tools, an attorney in any part of the state can consult with a needy client, prepare pleadings and other documents, and instruct the client about how to proceed in court without having to travel to the court room.
Pairing urban and rural attorneys: Some cases will require an attorney in the court room to interrogate witnesses, etc. But in such cases, LSR still allows for one attorney (not necessarily local) to prepare pleadings while another attorney presents the matter in court. Thus, both attorneys reduce the amount of time given to pro bono representation, yet the client is represented and the court avoids a pro se litigant situation.
The Internet can bring rural and urban attorneys into one community. Several existing tools facilitate sharing information, forms, etc. Making attorneys who practice before you aware of these tools increases the total legal resources for your community. A special list serve has been established for pro bono attorneys to communicate statewide. Click here for instructions about how to join. Also see MoBar Circle. The online Deskbook for Pro bono Attorneys provides specific information for pro bono attorneys and numerous tips and forms.
Local rules and practices should facilitate use of LSR especially in rural areas.