Imagine travelling for hours just to speak with your doctor, teacher, accountant or lawyer. What happens when life throws the unexpected your way?
Theresa Dowling, partner at DDCS Lawyers, sees clients from all over NSW and the ACT. She lives regionally and is a passionate advocate for remote and hybrid access to vital services.
“I know first-hand just how important remote access can be, especially in the event of an accident, unplanned opportunity or threat,” Theresa says.
“Remote legal services have been part of my service offering for around 12 years now – I am a huge advocate for the opportunities they provide for individuals and businesses, particularly in the farm and business succession-planning space.”
Even where legal services are present, they may be generalist rather than specialised in a particular field of law. It’s a huge issue currently facing regional areas.
“The law is complex – there is no doubt you will obtain a superior service if your lawyer is an expert in their chosen field, rather than trying to cover everything from DUIs to conveyancing,” Theresa says.
“Those who live in the regions have historically had no choice but to engage a jack-of-all-trades lawyer trying to keep on top of the needs of different clients. And in extreme cases, this can be a bit like a GP performing brain surgery.
“Accessing remote legal services opens up a world of opportunities for growth and helps solve fairness and equity issues for people living in areas with limited resources – after all, access to justice and quality legal services is every person’s right.”
Theresa says the pandemic forced Australians to think about remote infrastructure more seriously – a silver lining, perhaps.
“There have been real drivers for change lately in how legal services are provided across all sectors,” she says.
“Obviously the pandemic was a significant contributor to this; for example, during lockdowns emergency measures were put in place to allow remote signing of legal documents in most Australian jurisdictions.
“The NSW Government recently made this permanent – it can be a really valuable tool for our remote clients in terms of getting legal tasks finalised quickly.”
It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but Theresa explains there’s plenty of room to grow.
“What we continue to see in the legal space is a high demand for good quality, specialised support, particularly for people living in rural and regional NSW,” she says.
“What they’re looking for is a way to create and maintain a relationship with their legal provider without having to get the car and drive for three hours every time they want to see them.
“The infrastructure is there, and we’ve proved that we can adapt to online services quickly and use them efficiently. All that’s left is to implement remote services until they become commonplace.”
Based in Canberra, DDCS has a strong client base and network throughout regional NSW. The firm has been around since 2007, and has a plethora of success stories to tell. Each of the founding partners has a rural or regional connection.
“Our firm’s only practice areas are family law, wills, estates, and business succession – we are specialists in those areas,” Theresa says.
“We will continue to offer remote services for all of them. You shouldn’t have to put your whole life on hold if something unexpected happens and you need to speak to an expert lawyer.”
If you require legal assistance, contact DDCS Lawyers to arrange a remote or face-to-face appointment.