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Suggested strategies to address recruitment and retention of lawyers in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas of NSW

  1. Professional learning and development initiatives (Legal Aid)

    Develop initiatives that provide professional support for public sector lawyers such as:
    • An induction and training program that is delivered in regional areas and includes information about the realities of working in RRR areas and an introduction to local networks, services and community organisations.
    • A mentoring scheme.
    • Supervision and debriefing opportunities — for example, a roster of telephone / AVL support with senior practitioners at ALS, Legal Aid NSW barristers.
    • Use of AVL and IT to deliver professional support and training initiatives
    Coordinate the delivery of the professional support initiatives across public sector agencies (ALS, CLCs and Legal Aid NSW).
  2. Human resource initiatives

    Financial incentives are just one of a number of factors that influence retention (other factors include terms of employment, working conditions, administrative and IT support).
    Consider a range of remuneration initiatives including:
    • Higher salaries paid to lawyers working in the most remote or problematic RRR areas through the use of:
      – RRR loading in addition to base salary; and/or
      – Regional loyalty bonus / retention bonus (paid upon completion of a certain number of years of service in a designated RRR area)
    • Additional leave
    • Free flights back to Sydney (or other relevant towns)
    • Increased opportunities to attend training.
    Consider different models of service:
    • Hub and Spoke model: ALS are currently trialing this model. Lawyers are recruited to work in a regional area (e.g. Dubbo) with the understanding that they will undertake a ‘rotation’ in a remote area (e.g. Bourke) for a few months and then return to work the regional area.
    • ‘Fly in fly out’ model: local service and administrative support but solicitor flies in and out.
    Work together with regional universities to establish clinical legal education programs.
    Consider the use of locum solicitors in Community Legal Centres when resident solicitors are on leave / attending training or otherwise out of the office.
  3. Further research and monitoring

    Need for further research in relation to:
    • Ongoing monitoring of vacancies in public sector legal positions — annual snapshot
    • Use of AVL to provide professional support (mentoring and supervision to lawyers in RRR areas.
    • Appropriate models of service delivery in problematic RRR areas.