Access to a Lawyer in Rural Australia: Thoughts on the Evidence We Need

Simon Rice


NSW Law Society membership data 1988–2004 enables mapping over time of the presence and movement of private legal practice in rural NSW. The changing ratio of legal practices per 10 000 population is calculated against data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In short, while the rural population increases, the number of legal practices decreases at a much slower rate, resulting in an overall drop in the proportion of legal practices in the population. However, although some inferences could be drawn, the data do not go very far in illustrating the nature and degree of, and reasons for, the limits on access to law in rural Australia. One way of thinking about the further research that can be done is to consider the research implications of the many different ways the issue of rural access to law is expressed, and the different dimensions that are emphasised in those formulations.

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