The Life Of An Alaskan Bush Attorney

This morning I set off to interview witnesses in one of my cases. Because the case occurred in a village that meant travel. Distance? All of 29 miles. Unimpressed? Well, when there are no roads and the land is as much liquid as solid, that means you fly. In a tiny plane.

This particular plane had room for six including the pilot. And, of course, it’s been snowing so the runway was fairly white with slippery stuff.

I don’t have much experience with small planes and I was pretty apprehensive. Takeoff was fine, though I will say that the size of the plane combined with the snow made for a “squishy” ascent. The back tires seemed to move side to side independent of the propeller. Eventually we were up and Bethel is almost quaint in the 8:30 A.M. darkness.

Turns out that I’m just fine with small planes and the flight was great. I legitimately had thoughts of getting my pilot’s license. It was fun. Even if landing on a snowy strip still made me tense up.

We actually had a stop in Kwethluk before taking off again to Akiak, but it was smooth sailing to the village and I loved seeing the tundra from above. Finally, we arrived at our destination. Thirty minutes after we left Bethel. It isn’t far but remember, no roads. The Akiak airport is two small garages. Nothing else.

See it? In any case, here is a picture of my plane.

Once we arrived we caught a 4-wheeler ride into the village and ended up in the community center. We just happened to run into a witness there and the day unfolded from there as we interviewed person after person. In the course of the day I accepted a cup of coffee as I watched a man saw through a moose’s shank as he prepared dinner. I talked to a witness as a seal carcass chilled to my right. I walked all of the streets of a village where CB radio is more common than cell phones. It snowed. I introduced myself as a defense attorney but people talked to me anyways. They offered me lunch. At some point we were done and we flew away. It was one of the more fun days I’ve spent as an attorney. And on the way home I got to see the Kuskokwim river beginning it’s slow process of freezing over.


2 thoughts on “The Life Of An Alaskan Bush Attorney

  1. I think I would have vomited on the tarmac out of sheer terror before even making it on to that plane. Between the plane ride and the moose carving, glad to hear you made it back in one piece!

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