This year marks about twelve years of my family owning commercial real estate on the main street in downtown Winlock. During that time we have seen businesses come and go and historically noticed an ongoing opportunity for marketplace diversity. Our original intent to invest in Winlock was sparked by a major horse facility planned in the area. Unfortunately, the economy took a turn for the worse and that project was put on hold. While things cooled for a while, opportunity is again knocking and we see a growing need for economic diversity in Winlock. After noticing this need, we asked ourselves "How can we help?"
Because of my lifelong employment in the legal and real estate field, and a supportive husband, the Law Office of Tonya Hebert, pllc, aka Winlock Law, recently opened its doors.
It was not an easy decision. A lot of thought went into opening a rural law practice. One of the benefits of providing rural legal services for me is that it no longer requires commuting to the city where the risk of a traffic debacle grew ever more likely. The trade off is that not every one of the 1,400 residents in Winlock will seek legal assistance. As an entrepreneur, I believe that if the cost is affordable to the client, the ready availability of local legal assistance may be the determining factor for the client in deciding whether to travel to the city for legal services or, even worse, go it alone.
Most lawyers focus on highly populated areas as those provide the best opportunity to make money. About two thirds of lawyers focus on corporate clients, while rural clients are often left without representation. Since the 1950's, the number of rural lawyers has steadily decreased. Today our rural communities lack legal support not only in Washington but across the United States. Based on a 2013 New York Times article, four urban communities in rural South Dakota garner 65 percent of all the region's lawyers. In Georgia, 70 percent of lawyers are in the Atlanta area, and in Arizona, 94 of lawyers percent are in the two largest counties.
Even though the American Bar Association has called on federal, state, and local governments to stem the decline of lawyers in rural areas, not much has changed. In Washington state, rural attorneys make up a very small percentage of lawyers even though there is a need in every community for services related to deeds, wills, and sales and dispute resolution.
Winlock Law is one example of filling a rural community need. Other entrepreneurs looking for opportunities should consider Winlock as a place to provide products and services. Winlock's rural community is welcoming and provides an environment where entrepreneurial spirit is supported. The residents really care about what is happening in Winlock and that concern is not commonplace across our country today. Winlock is open to supporting businesses that provide services to rural clients and businesses providing services online that don't otherwise have a need for high cost office space.
Filling a need in my rural community is what brought me to Winlock. I hope my services are beneficial to the community and I hope to meet you soon!