YOUNG LAWYERS are being lured back to the bush by a new program aimed at reversing a legal brain drain in the remote areas of Queensland.
The Regional Solicitor Program makes rural and regional locations a viable option for graduates and offers them competitive salary rates. According to Legal Aid Queensland CEO John Hodgins, the program offers graduates a starting wage of $40,000 a year.
“Like many other professional service providers in Queensland, we have found it difficult to attract staff to rural and regional areas,” Hodgins said. “When we found the number of legal professionals available to do legal aid work was on the decline we decided to do something about it and developed this program.”
The program matches law graduates with a regional private law firm. Legal Aid Queensland pays the graduate’s practical legal training course fee as well as 75 per cent of their wage, while the firm pays the remaining 25 per cent.
The graduate is required to handle the firm’s legal aid cases under the supervision of the firm.
One graduate who has taken part in the program, Sue Johnston, said she had no regrets about taking up a position in a small Charleville law firm over a Brisbane mega firm.
“A lot of my friends who are working in major law firms spent their first couple of months just reading and analysing files whereas on my first day I was interviewing a client,” she said.