A Law Council study released in July 2009 revealed that problems in recruiting and retaining lawyers in country areas is having a negative impact on the people living in these communities when it comes to accessing legal services.
The Rural, Regional and Remote Areas Lawyers survey was undertaken nationwide and sought to obtain information from country lawyers about the current and future needs of their practices.
The Law Council strongly believes that unless current and future lawyer shortages in RRR areas are addressed, there will be a dramatic negative impact on access to justice throughout regional Australia.
The Law Council has identified and actively pursued a number of initiatives by the legal profession, employer legal firms and organisations, and the Government through advocacy, lobbying, education and strategy development.
In March 2010 the Law Council made a submission to the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for one-off funding to assist in the development of a campaign to boost the recruitment and retention of lawyers in RRR areas.
In May 2010, the Commonwealth Attorney-General, the Hon. Robert McClelland MP, announced $1.1 million in funding to boost the recruitment and retention of lawyers in RRR areas. The majority of the funding was provided to the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc. for the engagement of regional coordinators to develop strategies to attract and retain lawyers in selected RRR areas, including support for services to coordinate recruitment and to provide mentoring and professional support to lawyers for all Commonwealth Government-funded legal assistance services.
Some of this funding has been provided to the Law Council of Australia through the National Association of Community Legal Centres Inc. for the Law Council to develop a range of awareness activities to assist in attracting and retaining lawyers in RRR areas.