AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers are considering a proposal to create a legal aid clinic in northern Maine that supporters said is important for rural residents who need representation.

Democratic Senate President Troy Jackson introduced the proposal on Wednesday. It would authorize University of Maine School of Law to open the clinic in Fort Kent.

Jackson said there aren’t enough attorneys practicing in rural parts of Maine. The legal workforce is also aging in those parts of the state, he said.

The lack of lawyers “leaves our citizens’ basic rights unprotected,” Jackson said. He said the proposal would fill two needs by “increasing access to legal counsel, while also opening opportunities for young people to consider a career in law.”

The clinic would be a three-year pilot program that would provide free legal aid to Maine residents. It would also recruit new attorneys to rural parts of the state, supporters said. The state would be able to duplicate the program elsewhere in the state after three years.

The proposal will need votes before a committee of the Maine Legislature in the coming weeks.

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