An exciting new program is increasing access to justice for rural Ohioans by helping newly licensed attorneys choose underserved counties for their practice.

The Rural Practice Incentive Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and supported by the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio State Bar Association, offers loan repayment assistance to encourage attorneys to practice in the 82 Ohio counties that have too few attorneys to meet the legal needs of their residents.

Attorneys employed by the state public defender, the prosecuting attorney of an underserved county, a county public defender commission, or a joint county public defender commission qualify to apply for the program if they have been licensed for fewer than eight years. Accepted applicants must commit to a minimum of three years of service. Loan repayment is up to $10,000 per year for a total of up to $30,000. Applicants may request to serve for four or five years for a total repayment amount of $40,000 or $50,000, respectively. The deadline to apply is March 15.

“Every Ohioan should have access to justice,” said Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy when announcing the program. “Working together, we will close the gap in legal services in Ohio.”

As Ohio’s official access to justice entity, the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation convenes and collaborates with leaders and stakeholders across the state to enhance fairness, equality, and justice for Ohioans.