Hometown Hawkeye: Kelsey Hollingshead

Hometown Hawkeye: Kelsey Hollingshead

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College of Law alumna helps fill legal void in rural Iowa
Kelsey Hollingshead
Kelsey Hollingshead

Name: Kelsey Hollingshead
Degree: JD (Law) ’13
Occupation: Solo legal practitioner
Residence: Britt, Iowa

Rural Iowans are quickly losing access to legal services as aging attorneys retire and close their small practices, leaving a void that younger lawyers aren’t rushing to fill.

But University of Iowa College of Law graduate Kelsey Hollingshead went against that grain, starting her career in the summer of 2013 as a solo practitioner in Britt (population: 2,000) under the wing of a local attorney.

Hancock county highlighted on an Iowa map

Britt is located in Hancock County, Iowa, which includes:

75 UI alumni
10 UI-educated teachers and school administrators
1 UI-educated physician
4 UI-educated dentists
2 UI-educated pharmacists

Source: UI Outreach site

Hollingshead found her way to her practice after her second year of law school when she was part of the Rural Clerkship Program, a partnership between the Iowa State Bar Association and the state’s law schools that encourages law students to practice in rural areas. The clerks work with established attorneys’ rural or small-town practices during the summer, providing practical legal experience and exposing them to career options they may not have considered.

“I’ve always been interested in working in a small town,” says Hollingshead, a native of a small town herself, Eagle Grove. “I like the sense of community, and you can make more of a difference in a small town.”

Hollingshead clerked in Britt in 2012 after clerking for a firm in her hometown in 2011. The growing need for attorneys in rural America became apparent to her during those summer clerkship experiences.

Eagle Grove, for instance, has only three attorneys working in two firms in a town of 3,300. Britt has only three small firms. That dearth of lawyers forces residents to drive to other towns for such basic legal services as selling a house, drafting a contract, or probating a will.

Hollingshead says that because many rural residents are elderly, traveling long distances to work with far-off attorneys adds to the inconvenience. She hopes the Rural Clerkship Program will help law students and young attorneys start their careers, retiring small-town practitioners, and especially those rural and small-town communities affected by the void.

Did you know? University of Iowa law alumni live and work in 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

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Hometown Hawkeyes are University of Iowa alumni, students, faculty, and staff living, working, and making a difference in Iowa. Know a Hometown Hawkeye you'd like to see profiled in Iowa Now? Email your suggestion to us at now@uiowa.edu.


Tom Snee, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0010


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