Rural, regional & remote area lawyers
A significant proportion of Queensland’s population lives in regional, rural and remote areas. Information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that about 30% live in regional areas, and a further 3% live in remote or very remote areas. Encouraging and supporting lawyers to work in these areas, and to improve access to justice, has been identified as an ongoing and urgent challenge.
Research indicates that there is a significant shortage of lawyers working in regional, rural and remote areas across Australia and, in particular, of young lawyers. According to a 2006 report on the participation of private legal practitioners in the provision of legal aid services in Australia, there are only 3 lawyers for every 10 000 adults living in remote areas, compared with more than 10 lawyers for every 10 000 adults living in a capital city. In a national survey of rural, regional and remote areas lawyers in 2009, more than 40% of principals surveyed reported that their practice did not presently have sufficient lawyers to service their client base. The shortage is expected to worsen as older practitioners retire, and legal practices struggle to attract and retain new lawyers.
Lawyers working in regional, rural and remote areas face many unique challenges and opportunities. One reason identified in the 2009 national survey for leaving practice in a country area was lower remuneration. On the other hand, lawyers in country areas gain the experience of diverse case loads, and the capacity for greater work-life balance. Lawyers in regional, rural and remote areas also undertake significant legal aid and pro bono work.
For further information and resources, please see:
- Urbis, 2011 Law Society National Profile, Final Report (Law Society of New South Wales 2012)
- Law Council of Australia and Law Institute of Victoria, Report into the Rural, Regional and Remote Areas Lawyers Survey (Law Council of Australia July 2009)
- TNS Social Research, Study of the Participation of Private Legal Practitioners in the Provision of Legal Aid Services in Australia, Research Report (Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, 2006)
- Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Regional Profile 2006–2010: Queensland: Population and People
- ABC Radio, The Law Report, Women Lawyers in the Bush, broadcast on 7 August 2012
- The RRR Law website which contains information on legal careers in rural, regional and remote Australia including regional profiles, case studies, job searches and development opportunities
- The Law Council of Australia RRR resources page
- The Qld Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH) Rural, Regional and Remote project webpage
- Push for the Bush, Lawyers Weekly (2012)
- Rural and Regional Legal Education Network