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

Joe Anderson

Joe Anderson is a partner at the law firm Jenkins Anderson in Port Lincoln, South Australia. He was born and raised in Port Lincoln and has practised law in London, Edinburgh and Sydney.

In 2006, Joe relocated to Sydney and took up a position as a lawyer for ASX Limited, the operator of the Australian Stock Exchange. In 2009, after three years in Sydney, Joe returned to Port Lincoln where he now lives with his wife—also a lawyer—and young child.

What motivated you to make the move back to Port Lincoln from Sydney?

I think the quality of life that you can have in a country town is higher than that of the city. Of course everyone has their own different views about what they want to do in terms of leisure activities and lifestyle, but in my view a capital city is never that far away and so you can get the best of both worlds in a regional area.

Coming from Sydney, simple things like the lower cost of housing and living were an attraction. I knew that as a partner in a successful commercial firm my earning capacity would be similar to what it would be in Adelaide and I would have the added advantage of far lower living costs. But the most important reason I moved back here was that it is a great place to raise a family.

What lifestyle benefits do you specifically enjoy in a location like Port Lincoln?

We really enjoy having easy access to the beaches, the ocean and natural areas surrounding Port Lincoln—it’s a beautiful part of the world. I appreciate being out in nature and being able to get in the car and drive 10 minutes to a beautiful beach where there’s almost no one there. From a selfish point of view, it’s something that I really love, but it’s also something I really want my kids to be able to experience.

What do you believe are the major selling points about living and working in a regional area like Port Lincoln?

It would have to be the general ease of living—everything here is just a bit easier. Whether it’s getting kids to and from school or getting to and from work and not having to commute, it’s generally easier to get the everyday things in life done, meaning you have more time to spend on activities you enjoy such as spending time with your family or spending time out in nature.

From a career perspective, working in a regional firm exposes you to lots of varied, interesting areas of practice— you never know what’s going to walk through the door on any given day. I am also able to use my skills as a lawyer to enhance the local community: I’m on the board of the local community bank; I’m often called upon by various organisations to provide assistance; and I feel like I’m having a positive influence on the community, which is pretty satisfying.

You’ve experienced life in major metropolitan cities across the world. What are the major differences between these cities and an area like Port Lincoln?

Over here the people are different and the interaction with my local community is different. People certainly have a greater sense of community in Port Lincoln, and even from a work perspective, the work that I do here involves more of a personal touch which establishes connections to people; you have a real impact on their lives. I’ve found this a positive change as opposed to dealing with major corporations where it’s all a bit faceless.

How has your career advanced since you returned to work in Port Lincoln?

I’ve jumped the rungs quicker than I would have in a large metropolitan firm. I’m 30 now and am in my second year of being partner at the firm. I’m the managing partner of this firm now, so from that point of view, I’ve been able to walk into an established business in terms of their client base and take control of it from a fairly early stage of my career. It has been a great opportunity that I have really enjoyed and reveled in. I’ve had many opportunities since being here to do interesting work: I am constantly being challenged by clients and there are so many varied cases. My general legal knowledge has expanded exponentially and it makes me think more broadly about issues that come across my desk.

You grew up in Port Lincoln and now have a young family of your own. What is Port Lincoln like in terms of raising a family?

From my point of view, growing up in Port Lincoln, I certainly feel like I had an amazing childhood. Being able to go surfing, camping and having full access to sports I wanted to play, I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. A big part of the decision to come back here was that I wanted my children to be able to experience the great childhood I had.

If someone came to you seeking advice regarding making a lifestyle and career change to an area like Port Lincoln, what would you say to them?

My advice would be to make sure it’s not just a whim: make sure you’re really prepared to commit to it. If you’re prepared to give it a solid go and come with a positive attitude, there’s a lot of opportunity in a place like Port Lincoln.