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Law Council of Australia: Regional and remote access to justice

3 August, 2009

A recent Law Council study has highlighted issues in retaining and recruiting lawyers in regional, rural and remote areas. Law Council President John Corcoran states,

“The findings of the survey are significant. Over 40 per cent of principals surveyed nationally indicated that their practice currently does not have enough lawyers to service their client base.”

“Not only do the survey results suggest that there is a shortage of lawyers at present, it is likely that this situation will dramatically deteriorate. The survey results indicated that a large number of legal practitioners, many of whom are sole practitioners, will retire in the next five to 10 years. Alarmingly, 42 per cent of the legal practitioners surveyed do not intend to practise law in five years’ time.”

If the shortage of legal practitioners is not addressed, regional communities will face structural challenges in obtaining legal advice and that could lead to injustice. The ABC reports the chief executive of the Queensland Law Society, Noela L’estrange, as identifying the problem as a community issue like health, not a just a legal issue.

The survey, State breakdown and Report into the Rural, Regional and Remote Areas Lawyers Survey can be found here.

Update. The New Lawyer finds regional lawyers can be viewed as ‘failed lawyers’.

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