FORT KENT, Maine — When Mainers work together, they accomplish some remarkable things.
That’s what happened when University of Maine System officials from two campuses hundreds of miles apart, bipartisan state legislators and a determined small town lawyer formed a rural practice law clinic in Fort Kent.
Maine Law established the rural practice clinic with bipartisan support from the Maine Legislature and seed money from the Office of the Maine Attorney General.
As in most professions, Maine has a severe shortage of lawyers especially who will help low income and indigent clients, a problem that is especially felt in rural areas of the state such as northern Aroostook County. The new rural legal clinic is aimed at providing services to those who are underrepresented and indigent, while simultaneously introducing students to what it is like to practice rural law.
“Maine Law takes very seriously the need for more lawyers in all of our rural areas; when you don’t have lawyers, you don’t have access to justice,” Law school President and Dean Leigh Saufley said.
The clinic will be housed in the UMFK Sport Center and staffed by two law students each semester who will earn credits toward their degrees for providing legal services to rural clients.
Under the supervision of Fort Kent lawyer Toby Jandreau, the students will provide free legal services to people of limited financial means in civil, criminal, juvenile and family law matters.
Jandreau, a Maine Law alumnus, initiated the rural clinic in response to the shortage of lawyers in rural Maine. He is one of only two general law practitioners