The Law Council of Australia’s Rural, Regional and Remote Areas Lawyers Survey was conducted in 2009 in response to the growing problems in recruiting and retaining legal practitioners in country Australia.
The survey was aimed at collating concrete evidence for a problem that had, up until 2009, primarily existed anecdotally.
The online survey was sent by law societies throughout Australia to their members working in RRR areas and received strong support from the country legal community with a total of 1,185 practitioners participating.
The results of the survey confirmed what many country lawyers already knew: RRR law firms and community legal centres were unable to find suitable lawyers to fill vacancies and were feeling the strain of constant staff turnover.
The results also showed the problem was set to deteriorate in the next five to 10 years as a large number of experienced principals retired.
The most significant results from the survey showed that:
- Over 40% of principals surveyed indicated their practice did not have enough lawyers to service their client base.
- The situation will continue to worsen in the following five to 10 years, as experienced practitioners cease practising law or retire with nobody to take over their firms.
- Practitioners are concerned about the future of the profession in RRR regions as experienced and young lawyers depart.
- The situation is compounded given practitioners working in RRR areas undertake a significant amount of legal aid, pro bono and other unpaid voluntary work.
The Law Council gratefully acknowledges the extensive assistance provided by the Law Institute of Victoria in undertaking the survey.