*A 36-minute video of the Digital Treechange launch event is now available featuring Justice Peter Applegarth, Judge Tracy Fantin and Dr Jacoba Brasch QC.
23 September: The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has launched a recruitment initiative to attract lawyers to work in rural, regional and remote (RRR) Australia.
The Digital Treechange initiative enables legal practitioners to trial rural practice from their homes and seeks to encourage legal practitioners to practise outside central business districts.
Law Council of Australia President Dr Jacoba Brasch QC acknowledges that Australians are increasingly embracing the idea of working remotely and says the initiative is designed to utilise technology to bring together job candidates and rural firms seeking staff.
“Aside from an on-location visit during the trial, the candidate works remotely during their probation,” Dr Brasch said. “This lets them check they like the work, the people they would be working with, and learn about the community, before they have to make the major commitment of packing up their entire lives and moving somewhere new.
“At the end of the trial period, both the candidate and their potential employer can make a fully-informed decision, with the view that the candidate will then relocate to the RRR area.
“We hope the security blanket created by this initiative encourages more lawyers to apply for jobs outside our cities and stay in RRR communities.
“Access to justice is an inalienable right for all Australians, yet availability of legal services varies across the country. Where someone lives, our postcode, may impact on a person’s ability to access justice.”
The LCA is prioritising access to justice issues for RRR areas, and understands the recruitment, retention and succession of lawyers in these areas is vital to ensuring this is addressed. Limited private practitioner services in RRR communities also impacts the availability of pro bono and volunteer assistance.
“Twenty-nine percent of our population live outside major cities, but only about 10% of solicitors are practising in a country or rural area,” Dr Brasch said. “That’s around 8300 lawyers for seven million people.
“Shortages of lawyers in RRR areas have resulted in residents being denied legal representation at critical moments in their lives. This could vary from something as simple as seeking legal advice, needing help with a will, through to requiring representation in a family, civil, or criminal matter.”
The Digital Treechange initiative can be explored via the Law Council’s RRR Law webpage.