What support is there for lawyers relocating to RRR areas?
None that I am aware of. The most would be connections with and through law society members.
What experiences will I gain from working in RRR areas?
You learn how to manage client's expectations and how to prepare advice that is on point and easily understood. You learn to be an effective lawyer because they are the only new ones who get work in RRR areas. Personal experiences may differ, but it may be difficult to establish a new friendship group. This will require effort to reach out to strangers but it will teach social and inter-personal skills that will last a lifetime. You will grow in confidence.
How will working in RRR areas elevate my career?
You will become known for your skills and professionalism. In regional areas it is still true that people know each other and so reputations are built on word of mouth, media, radio and newspaper exposure.
In which RRR area do you currently work, and how long have you been there?
I have worked in Albany, Western Australia for nearly three years, and 18 months in own firm. COVID-19 restrictions severely limited "marketing" opportunities in 2020.
However there was an increased and expanded acceptance of the legitimacy and professionalism of remote legal work i.e. instructions, meetings etc, and an immediate pivot by lawyers and clients to using "platforms" like Zoom and Teams. The effect of this was that it was easy for me to maintain my existing client base, which was in the main located in Perth and, in respect of Aboriginal Foundations, fairly remote areas like Pilbara.
In which area of law do you practice and what elements of your practice do you think are unique to being in a RRR area?
I practice in taxation, superannuation and estates. The various particular taxation legislation provisions (state and federal) that are unique to rural, farming and agribusiness become prominent. There are also specific aspects to Wills in relation to, for example, the passing on of a farm, vineyard, agribusiness to the next generation.
What is your favourite thing about working in a RRR area from a lifestyle perspective?
The travel time between workplace and home is usually shorter - could be five minutes. Everything is close in the town. Weekends often spent visiting local towns and attractions; you develop an awareness of festivals/events specific to the region and the need to support them.
However, in Western Australia you must accept limited opportunities for cultural activities i.e. music (from jazz to classic), art exhibitions (lots of craft) because of the vast distances. Generally the location is beautiful.
What is the most challenging thing about working in a RRR area?
Consider how you will handle:
- On a personal level - dentist, doctor, hairdresser, friends – i.e. locating your "tribe".
- On a professional level: breaking into a market where connections between potential clients and existing professionals are of long standing.
So the need to maintain existing clients from the metropolitan area, even in the era of remote work acceptance, may remain. This may require more travel to and from, in my case, Perth, than may be desired. But the cost and the management time are well worth the additional administration.
What three pieces of advice would you give to someone considering working in a RRR area?
1. Consider how you will handle relocating on a personal level:
- Finding a new dentist, doctor, hairdresser, friends – i.e. locating your "tribe".
- Try joining a sporting club - or three.
- Try joining the local Chamber of Commerce.
2. Consider how you will handle relocating on a professional level:
- How do you plan to break into a market where connections between potential clients and existing professionals are of long standing.
- Connect through your professional body - what are they doing, and what can you do for them?
- Get your name written about in the local paper - there will be an issue that you can offer legal comment on.
- Know the major business(es) of the area - is it wine? Wheat? Timber? Fishing? Educate yourself about that and any peculiar legal aspects or issues.
3. Decide if you will maintain existing clients from the metropolitan area. Even in the era of remote work acceptance this, may require more travel to and from the metropolitan area than may be desired.