Strategies for Meeting Rural Legal Needs: Lessons from Local, Regional and International Experience

Kim Economides


This paper considers policy options for future planning of legal services in rural and remote areas and assesses the relative merits of the public and private sectors in identifying and meeting legal needs in such areas. Drawing on previous research and a range of national and international experience I focus on the future development of proactive services in legal service delivery: first, through examining the idea of ‘rural law (community) centres’ employing salaried lawyers and 'paralegals' working in the public sector; second, through speculating on the implications of emerging alternative business structures and new technology currently evolving in the private sector. The paper evaluates various delivery models (and their likely impact) and considers whether strategic approaches are possible when rural communities are so often dispersed, isolated and politically marginal. It examines the concept and practice of ‘rural proofing’, as developed by policymakers in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, in order to see whether legal services policy can be better attuned to the needs and expectations of rural communities.

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