Like many other professional groups, such as doctors and nurses, lawyers in regional areas are experiencing increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining suitable staff. These recruitment problems have a direct effect on the legal sector’s ability to service the legal needs of regional communities.
Many law firms, community legal centres and public assistance services are unable to find suitable lawyers to fill vacancies when they arise and are being impeded by the drain of corporate knowledge caused by a constant turnover of staff. Evidence also suggests this situation will deteriorate further in the next five to 10 years as a large number of experienced principals retire.
In March 2009, the Law Council coordinated a nationwide survey of legal practitioners in RRR areas. The survey aimed to obtain empirical support for anecdotal evidence indicating a shortage of legal practitioners in regional areas of Australia. The online survey was sent by law societies throughout Australia to their members working in RRR areas.
The survey elicited strong support from the country legal community with a response rate of 24%.