Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

What sets Tasmania’s legal profession apart?

The number of solicitors in Tasmania has increased exponentially since 2011. Here, Apple Isle practitioners reveal how its close-knit legal community helps it make such a difference.

user iconLauren Croft 13 August 2021 SME Law
Tasmania’s legal profession
expand image

Following the release of the fifth annual National Profile of Solicitors report, three legal executives from law firms in Hobart shared what sets Hobart apart from other Australian cities and the opportunities and challenges present for lawyers in Tasmania.

According to the report, the total number of practising solicitors in Australia has increased by over 45 per cent since 2011, with the ACT and Tasmania increasing the most over the last decade, as well as increasing growth of solicitors in Western Australia. Out of all the states, Tasmania also had the highest proportion of solicitors working in a city area compared to suburban or rural areas at 88 per cent – meaning most of the state’s solicitors are working in the state’s capital city, Hobart. However, the report didn't include data from government lawyers based in Tasmania until 2018, which has accounted for some of the state's growth. 

Alison Hay, special counsel at Barry. Nilsson., said that the firm’s expansion to Tasmania was a result of client demand. Originally a Brisbane-based firm, BN established a Hobart office in 2016 shortly after expanding its insurance and health law practice.


“BN is one of the only firms to offer a dedicated and leading national insurance and health law practice, with offices in all six states. Because we have a strong presence in each jurisdiction, we are able to provide our clients with a unique insight into the most suitable barristers, experts, adjusters and other third-party providers for any matter within that jurisdiction,” Ms Hay said.

“BN is one of few national firms that can support major insurers with work on the ground in Tasmania, which is something our clients value, knowing that our team is across the Tasmanian jurisdiction. It is also more cost effective for our clients to instruct the Tasmanian team directly, rather than relying on other state offices to do the work.

“Since establishing our Tasmanian office, BN has been appointed to a number of significant state-based legal panels, and we have seen our practice more than double in size (with the majority of the growth happening in the last three years).” 

Dinesh Loganathan, director of Logan & Partners, said that his firm had also experienced exponential growth within recent years.

“In the last five years, Tasmania has had rapid growth and has become a commercial hub. There has been an influx of migrants moving into Tasmania and many international corporations undertaking projects here,” he clarified.

“This in turn, has created a need for more lawyers. It used to be the case that many of the UTAS Law graduates would move to the mainland as there were only a few graduates who would get jobs. That no longer remains the case.”

Stuart Wright, principal of Bold Lawyers, opened an office in Hobart in 2018 and added that another reason for the growing number of solicitors in Tasmania is the opportunity to make a “real difference” in a smaller community than other Australian cities.

“It’s a small community down here and often legal practitioners can make a real difference in assisting people within that small community,” he said.

“[Additionally], there is a move towards solicitor practices briefing members of the private bar which in my opinion is a better model than firms doing solicitor and barrister work in house, which has long been the case in Tasmania because of its fused profession.”

On a similar note, Mr Loganathan called the legal profession in Hobart “close-knit” and said that unlike the rest of Australia, “Tasmania has a fused legal profession and the majority of the practitioners here are solicitor-advocates.”

“This creates a supportive network where lawyers are able to call other lawyers to seek advice or clarifications. Another aspect is the relationship with the judiciary. In Hobart, we have numerous opportunities to interact with the judiciary be it a formal setting or an informal setting,” he said.

However, Mr Wright said that Hobart being a supportive, close network means that it can be a difficult jurisdiction to work in, particularly for larger firms.

“In my opinion it’s a jurisdiction that can be difficult to work within because some of the rules and legislation are unnecessarily complex and often legislation is very dated and could be improved. It is also a market that cannot sustain professional fees that are charged in mainland jurisdictions,” he said.

“There are real opportunities for small operators in the Hobart space, particularly for those practitioners that have the ability to practice across multiple areas of law.

“It’s not a market that will easily sustain medium to larger firms. Whilst there has been growth in the market, it does not have the volume or the ability to generate high fee returns to sustain larger practices.”

Mr Loganathan added that in addition to this, one of the main challenges for lawyers in Hobart is attracting and keeping young talent.

“Retention of younger lawyers in the profession is one of the biggest challenges. The number of younger practitioners leaving the profession is increasing and is of concern,” he said.

“Hobart is now a culturally diverse city with migrants of all backgrounds. Being able to speak and understand Mandarin or Hindi would be a huge benefit.”

“This ‘commercial boom’ as I call it is not going to stop and will only increase as more people are migrating here. This will in turn create a need for more lawyers who are able to provide specialised advice in certain areas.”

Whilst government solicitor data has only been included in the Tasmanian numbers since 2018, the growth of the Tasmanian legal profession remains on par with national growth. Ms Hays said it was still quite small compared to other Australian cities, but that being a “tight-knit, collegial community of practitioners” came with a wide range of benefits that have contributed to the growing legal profession in the state.

I think there are probably a few contributing factors – a strong economy, including perhaps the strongest residential property market in the country,” she said.

“More specific to recent years (the last 18 months), I suspect not being able to travel overseas (and interstate, in some cases) has meant that local firms have been able to retain their talent and grow their practices.”

She added that, particularly post-pandemic, increased tourism in Tasmania will mean a busier economy and a growing legal sector.

With limited international travel as a result of the COVID pandemic, Australians are forced to holiday within Australia and Tasmania is a desirable destination,” she said.

“As the Tasmanian population and economy continue to experience steady growth, so do our legal opportunities.”