Rural law firm Adams Leyland Lawyers has defied worrying trends about succession planning in rural areas, by today appointing four associates to its offices in the Border and NSW Central West regions.
The Albury-based incorporated law firm, with offices also in Wodonga, Dubbo and Gilgandra, made the appointments in order to shore up the career prospects of existing employees who had been with the firm for some time.
Don Cameron, director of litigation, told Lawyers Weekly that while there were a number of contributing factors behind the appointments - including strong recent growth of the firm - a big factor was the need to deliver a strategy for succession.
"We had a number of lawyers in the firm who, after being here for three years, four years, five years, still didn't have a defined career path or any way of proceeding into gaining equity," he said. "And we didn't have any way ourselves of handing over to the next generation of people coming through."
The news comes after a June report by the Australian Law Council of a severe shortage of lawyers in rural, regional and remote areas, raising concerns over the lack of succession planning in firms outside metropolitan cities. The Law Council found that, of the 1185 regional and rural legal practitioners across the country, 43 per cent of principals revealed that their practice currently did not have enough lawyers to service its client base. At the same time, 71 per cent of respondents cited succession planning as their biggest concern.
Cameron said the appointments would mark a strong contribution of the firm in keeping skilled professionals in the Border and NSW Central West regions where the firm operates.
"We saw this as part of our evolution, from being a small firm in a regional centre, to a larger regional firm covering a number of regional centres with a more significant impact," he said.
"By being successful and creating these positions we can keep the talent we need in the region. This is essential as it is often difficult to attract lawyers who have trained and practised in the city."
The four associates are Emma Hill, Dirk de Zwart, Tim Ainsworth and Peter Uniacke.
- Angela Priestley