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The unique experience of Territorian lawyers

The Attorney-General of the Northern Territory discussed the unique opportunities and learning experiences afforded to lawyers who choose to practise in the Top End.

user iconJess Feyder 17 April 2023 Big Law
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Recently on The Lawyers Weekly Show, Attorney-General of the Northern Territory, the Honourable Chanston Paech, discussed what work is like for Territorian lawyers.

COVID-19 posed an exceptionally difficult time in the Northern Territory. When remote communities were locked down, not every community had connectivity, which posed a real challenge, noted Mr Paech.

There was an exit, people went back home to visit and reconnect with family, and now, there is a journey with people coming back into the NT, Mr Paech illuminated.


“The territory is a remote place, but it’s also a very beautiful place,” he explained. 

“If you’re a young lawyer coming to the territory, opportunities are endless, you progress your career a lot quicker, and you certainly end up in the courtroom a lot quicker.”

There are difficulties, however; he noted: “You are often confronted with some very difficult and graphic cases, and if you don’t have support people or more senior people in the profession to debrief and talk to, it can take its toll on you.”

“The legal profession in the NT is diverse,” Mr Paech highlighted. “You can specialise in community legal centres, you can work for commercial, environmental, First Nations — there are so many different opportunities.”

“The territory is the place to come, to find your skills and build those wonderful relationships.”

Mr Paech discussed the main challenges the NT might face in the near future.

“Given the economic turbulence that we’re in at the moment, I think we need to look out for our legal profession,” he said. 

“Certainly with any economic downturn, often comes with funding restrictions, and I wouldn’t say austerity measures, but people looking for efficiency.

“That’s a challenge right across the country, because often you end up with a great set of lawyers working for community legal centres, now those wages can’t compete with a commercial or a private practice.

Mr Paech continued: “I think we need to have a national approach to how we fund our legal community, particularly those community legal centres, because what we don’t want to create is two classes of lawyers.”

“We need to make sure that people are enumerated equally for the job that they’re doing, because we need lawyers in areas right across the profession for the legal system to fully function and operate.”

“We need to make sure, with those challenges, that our lawyers are being supported to really respond to those difficult times in their own personal life, as well as in the organisation’s difficult times.”