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Melita Medcalf

What support is there for lawyers relocating to RRR areas?

I think it depends which RRR area you are in. Some areas are more isolated than others. If you are considering work in an RRR area, I think it is very important to consider joining a mentor program, or reaching out to practitioners who have previously worked in RRR areas who will support you. I have an incredible network in Perth for instance – many practitioners who I have never met in person, they are all very happy to provide support and advice. If you are taking a very remote position, it is important to be brave and reach out to more senior colleagues. Our profession is always willing to help.

What experiences will I gain from working in RRR areas?

You can expect to elevate your career rapidly. RRR areas are dynamic, fast paced and very rewarding. It can feel a little like being in the deep end to begin with, but the power in surviving the deep end is proven experience and knowledge. Most importantly you will gain incredible insight into community, remote regional living, and the barriers that community members can often face due to locational disadvantage.

How will working in RRR areas elevate my career?

Like any experience, you get out what you put in. If you are willing to work hard, prepared to learn and build relationships in your community, your career will benefit greatly. I have always had so much respect from the profession and colleagues for the work that I do in the regions. It can be tough and its not for everyone, but if you have the support from family and friends and courage to do it your career path will open wider.

In which RRR area do you currently work, and how long have you been there?

North West WA, Pilbara region. Nine years now.

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?

Criminal Law. RRR areas give you an incredible insight to the community you work in. Advocacy becomes as much about your efforts in court as your advocacy out of court. Remote work often includes what we call circuit travel, this can mean by car or light aircraft. The courts are not permanent sitting courts which often means the court lists are long. The pace in the Pilbara is fast, the court days are long and your efforts as a lawyer providing assistance to the courts and clients is invaluable.

What is your favourite thing about working in a RRR area work-wise?

The opportunity to be part of the community. To learn culture, to understand what it means to be part of the country. The opportunity to advocate for clients in all facets of the justice system. If you give a chance you have the ability to make real change in some peoples lives.

What three pieces of advice would you give to someone considering working in a RRR area?

  1. If you’re thinking about working in an RRR community, you’re already half way there.
  2. Absolutely find a mentor.
  3. Put your brave hat on and take the leap – most don’t look back on their experience with anything other than fondness.