Scott Clippinger, 76, operates his law practice out of the old hardware store in the tiniest municipality in New York State. ”I’ve always liked rural folk, and I always liked small towns,” he says.

But his daughters, who are ages 34 and 31 and also lawyers, have no taste for rural life, and nothing dad says will bring them back to the village of Smyrna. That explains, in a microcosm, the crisis affecting vast swaths of upstate New York. Rural justice is a quickly disappearing commodity.

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