Welcome to NSW Young Lawyers Regional Careers Guide, the go-to resource for young lawyers considering a legal career in a rural or regional area.
This Guide has been created to combat the limited information available to young practitioners interested in embarking on a legal career.
Utilising the first hand knowledge of young regional practitioners as well as providing links to other useful online resources, the Guide aims to dispel the myths and uncover the truths about practising in a regional area. [For further background on why this guide has been prepared, please see below.
This Guide includes a collection of career profiles by young lawyers who are working in a variety of areas of practice and jobs across a diverse cross section of the state (including Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Maitland, Orange, and Albury).
These profiles provide an insight into the realities of practice as a young lawyer in a regional area, addressing topics like the benefits of regional practice, why practitioners choose a regional life, how jobs are obtained, as well as additional advice and tips on how to succeed as a regional young lawyer.
A common theme that emerges from these profiles is that young lawyers love practising in a regional area because of the lifestyle. That is not to say that regional practitioners don’t work as hard as their city counterparts (they do) but the ease of travel and working hours means that regional practitioners appear to find it easier to create a more even work/life balance. The cost of living is generally much lower in a regional area too, so any pay discrepancy with city based counterparts is offset by lower expenses.
Another benefit of regional practice is the opportunity to practise in a greater diversity of matters with more autonomy over files, leading to faster learning and development of skills.
Smaller communities also provide regional young lawyers with the chance to develop a deeper connection to the local district, with the hours of work also being conducive to having more time to get involved in local organisations (through sporting teams, social clubs, etc).
NSW Young Lawyers’ BushWeb Regional Issues committee has developed the Creating Networks initiative to help combat any feelings of isolation that may occur for young practitioners when working outside of the Big Smoke. Creating Networks utilizes the power of technology and the internet to help connect young regional practitioners with others in their area and across the state (including Sydney) in order to form a support network. This can assist on both a professional and personal level, helping forge new connections and friendships. For more information about Bushweb and Creating Networks, click here.
So, if you’re considering a legal career in a regional area, and are keen for an insight into what life is like as a young regional practitioner, or information on how to go about getting a job in a regional area, you've come to the right place. Delve into the profiles and hopefully you’ll find the experience enlightening.
In 2012, the NSW Young Lawyers Executive Council’s Rural and Regional Working Group and Bushweb Regional Issues Committee, focused their attentions on ways to improve support provided to young lawyers in regional areas.
Around the same time, an external legal profession body approached NSW Young Lawyers (NSWYL) about the organisation developing a PLT placement scheme to place PLT students from Sydney with firms in regional areas.
NSWYL consulted with young lawyer members practising in regional areas to receive feedback on the proposed PLT scheme, as well as to ascertain what other projects NSWYL could develop to provide support to young regional practitioners.
At the 2012 NSWYL Mid Year Assembly, two brainstorming sessions were also held specifically dedicated to the discussion of issues affecting young regional practitioners.
The feedback received from regional young lawyers was, in part, that:
- there was no information available on how to begin a legal career in a regional area;
- the information about how to start a legal career in a large or medium size law firm in Sydney does not help young lawyers who want to practise in a regional area. For example, information about the summer clerkship scheme is obsolete as there are no regional firms participating in the Law Society’s summer clerkship scheme. Instead, jobs in regional areas are generally dependent on networking directly with local senior practitioners;
- young lawyers who wish to practise in a regional area struggle to find jobs because junior legal positions are rare in many regions. This is despite the fact that it is common for young lawyers and law students to be told by academics and senior lawyers to consider practising in a regional area if they are finding it difficult to secure a job in Sydney. It is apparent that this advice does not match the realities of opportunities that exist in many regional areas for junior lawyers.
This Regional Careers Guide is NSWYL’s response to this feedback, and aims to provide young lawyers with practical information about pursuing a legal career in a regional area.
Finding time for other things in life.
Taking a hands on approach.
Start networking as soon as possible.
Be yourself. Work hard.
Patience, flexibility and willingness to learn.
Keep an open mind.
Learning starts in practice.
Making a difference in people's lives.
Make the leap - you won’t regret it.
Go get involved in your community.
Playing a part in the excitement.
Insight into the unique.
Be patient for the right job opportunity.
Approach everything with an open mind.
Empathy, patience and a willingness to keep learning.
Persistence, good communication skills and confidence.
Don’t be afraid to ask the question...
Be a sponge
Country boy at heart.
Hungry for more? Check out the rural and regional careers page on Career Hub