Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers in Rural, Regional and Remote NSW: A Literature Review

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Mundy, Patricia
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2008
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While much attention has been given to attracting and retaining professionals in rural areas generally (particularly doctors and allied health professionals), there has been very little research undertaken in Australia which looks specifically at the problems of recruitment and retention of lawyers in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas and the factors which contribute to it. This literature review has reviewed the available information and materials as it exists in NSW and other Australian jurisdictions. It considers the extent of the recruitment and retention problem, the potential factors which contribute to it and identifies a range of existing strategies that have been adopted to address the issue in rural areas. Since 1988 there has been a steady decline in the proportion of solicitors practising in RRR areas of NSW. There are indications that RRR solicitors are generally older and that many will retire in the next 10 years or so, leaving a concern about who will take their place. Despite this continued downward trend, conservative projections suggest that the distribution of the profession is likely to remain fairly steady at least over the next several years. The findings of a recent ‘mapping project’ indicate that over the past decade there has been a significant movement of private solicitors away from inland areas of NSW towards coastal areas of the state. Further, those private solicitors who continue to be located outside of city and suburban areas have become more concentrated in the larger regional centres. This has meant that for many in the smaller and more inland communities, access to lawyers is made particularly difficult. There is also concern that, despite the coastal trend, there is insufficient lawyers to service those communities experiencing rapid population growth. The key factors influencing recruitment and retention of lawyers in RRR areas include: family issues (ties to community, employment opportunities for one’s partner, availability of social and support networks for family and educational opportunities for children), lifestyle perceptions, lack of career development opportunities and professional isolation, salary, the changing employment patterns of younger lawyers and the changing demographics within the profession.

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© 2008 Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre. You may copy, display, download and otherwise freely deal with this work for any purpose provided that you attribute Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre as the owner. However, you may not modify the work or use the work for commercial purposes in any form without written permission.

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Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession

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