Rural, Regional, Remote Law — Rewarding legal careers in rural, regional and remote Australia

Ali Rees

Ali Rees is a young lawyer working in Shepparton at Riordan Legal.

She grew up in Melbourne and moved to Shepparton to take up a job opportunity that was too good to refuse. Having worked in the rural town of Shepparton for eight months she has busted many of the myths surrounding life and work in RRR Australia.

Why do you enjoy working in country Australia?

The variety of work and the challenges I get to face on a day-to-day basis. There’s also a personal feel to the office and the working atmosphere is really productive. The work in general is fantastic. As an example, currently on my desk I’ve got family law, state, lease and commercial matters; as well as property cases, water rights and I’ve even done some advising on modelling contracts‚ there’s a diversity in work that I’m exposed to every day and I don’t have to wait for a rotation or transfer to another department to get that.

Why did you choose country Australia, and more specifically Shepparton, as a destination to practise law?

I water ski in the area and thought it would be great if I could work closer to my extra-curricular activities. From there I got in touch with some family from the area who pointed me in the direction of some law firms in Shepparton and it all escalated to where I am today at Riordan Legal.

Shepparton offers people a good lifestyle. It’s an easy place to live, there are good people and the culture is really down-to-earth. It’s a lot of fun as well; there are a lot of things to do on weekends like sports and visiting wineries‚ the food and wine culture here is great.

There’s also a very supportive professional network here - especially for young professionals. I’ve met a lot of people through these networks, which is really valuable and gives a really strong sense of community.

What have you found are the key differences, between the metropolitan cities and country areas, in practising law from both a lifestyle and work perspective?

Living in general is so much easier here in Shepparton. My rent’s a quarter of what it would be in Melbourne and I don’t have to always use my car to get around town. Shepparton is also a very well set-up town and has all the stores someone could possibly want.

Shepparton is a very diverse town in terms of multiculturalism‚ there’s a lot of varying groups from different cultures which certainly gives the town a very interesting flavour and makes it a great and interesting place to live.

Working in Shepparton I’ve found is no different from that of a bigger city. I go into work and wear the same corporate clothes and I’m working with a diverse range of clients every day. In many ways, it’s not that different from working in a larger metropolitan city.

What is your favourite part of working in Shepparton?

I’m working in a great law firm! When you’re starting out in law a main priority is to get into a great law firm where there are good people and you’re learning a lot‚ and I’ve got that. There are a lot of great law firms outside the metropolitan cities and these firms represent great opportunities for young law graduates.

How has living in Shepparton differed from any preconceived notions about living outside a larger metropolitan city?

A lot of people thought my life would be turned around moving to Shepparton, but I quickly found out the exact opposite. In terms of day-to-day life and doing the things I like to do on weekends, such as going out, it hasn’t changed at all. The assumption seems to be that there’s not much to do if you’re not living in the big cities.

There’s also a notion that moving to a smaller town outside the metropolitan areas is a huge change and I think that scares a lot of people. But having lived in Shepparton I can say that the change wasn’t that drastic‚ and wasn’t too scary at all!

From a work perspective, people often think the work opportunities are very limited and not challenging, which isn’t true. When I first moved to Shepparton, people thought I would be stuck doing conveyancing all day, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Young lawyers in particular often think that working in the big city firms is the be-all and end-all of law, but the opportunities in country Australia are just as vast and rewarding career wise.

If someone came to you seeking advice about moving to a RRR area of Australia to practise law, what would you say to them?

I’d definitely advise to have a go and do it. There are definitely other ways than just the traditional big city law firms that you can take to get to wherever you want to go in your legal career.

Living in general is so much easier here in Shepparton. My rent’s a quarter of what it would be in Melbourne and I don’t have to always use my car to get around town.