Recruitment and Retention of Community Sector Lawyers: Regional Differences within New South Wales

Michael Cain, Suzie Forrell


The Aboriginal Legal Service, Community Legal Centres, Legal Aid NSW and private solicitors undertaking legal aid work all have a role in meeting the legal needs of disadvantaged communities in rural, regional and remote (RRR) parts of NSW. Yet there are reports that staff shortages are affecting the capacity of these services to perform this work — in some areas more than others. In order to gain a ‘snapshot’ of solicitor availability in RRR areas and to assess any regional differences in their availability to undertake community sector legal work in NSW, the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW has undertaken a census of all public legal assistance positions in NSW. The study examined whether the positions were filled or vacant, how they were filled, and the length of time that they were filled (or vacant). The research also drew upon data from the NSW Law Society and the three main public legal services in NSW to map solicitor availability across NSW against a range of indicators, including socio-economic disadvantage. In addition, interviews were conducted with solicitors working in (and who had left) ‘hard to staff’ areas with a view to better understanding differences in the recruitment and retention of solicitors across RRR areas of NSW. The major findings of the Foundation’s full research report are discussed in this paper.

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